Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Secrets of Unlimited Power!

Even -- or perhaps especially -- as a young kit subjected to the tedium of Sunday School, I was uneasy with all this miracle business. You can't just say, "my God is better than your God because of his superior magic." This seems the way of the barbarians. After all, Mohammed supposedly ascended to heaven on a winged steed. Can you top that? "Yes, I'll see you and raise you one virgin birth."

There is an old joke -- it might actually have been left by a commenter here -- about a fellow who says he wants to become a pagan. His friend asks him something to the effect of, "if you want to become a real pagan, why don't you just join the Catholic church?"

Now, the "spirit" of this joke is not insulting, but merely an ironic way of pointing out that Catholicism is a "full service" religion that addresses every level of man's being. Let's not kid ourselves. If we consider the full trajectory of the arc of salvation, of course Christianity appealed to pagans in a way that, for example, Judaism never could. How are you going to get the pagans "on board" the arc of salvation if you don't specifically appeal to their pagan sensibilities? It doesn't mean you remain a pagan. Indeed, that's the whole point -- a sort of bait and switch operation in which the paganism of the pagan is transformed and sublimated within Christianity.

Regarding the miracles, I suppose I didn't exactly understand how a violation of everything we know to be reliably true of the world is supposed to constitute the more reliable truth. Plus, it felt rather manipulative, as if metaphysical truth were too weak to stand on its own, so they had to throw in a few miracles to rig the outcome and impress the dim. What if, during the State of the Union, President Bush put on Sigfried & Roy style magic show, and made a few Democrat congressmen in the front row disappear? Would this add to or detract from the appeal of his speech? Okay, bad example.... But in the long run, would it in any way enhance the power of his message on grounds of truth alone?

Here again, isn't this what the pagans do -- for example, the nazis during their rallies, in which they would use special effects to drive home the message of the Führer? If we think of nazism as an underworld shadow of Christianity, it clearly turned the messiah principle on its head by imbuing Hitler with a numinous, hypnotic power. But this cannot be the true power. It reminds me of the miracles ascribed to Lil' Kim Jung -- probably not even leftist university professors are all that that impressed by his Marxist mojo:

"The Korean people are performing amazing miracles and exploits in socialist construction despite all sorts of tempests of history and all this has its source in the trust placed by the respected leader Kim Jong Il in them.... Kim Jong Il is the supreme incarnation of trust and love. Ever since he began steering the revolution he has pursued the policy of trust under the uplifted slogan 'Let's build a new society by virtue of trust and love.' The Korean people have thus grown to be a heroic people who can do anything. Kim Jong Il's trust serves as an ideological and moral source of strength whereby the Korean people can achieve signal successes despite any trial and fully display all their wisdom and energies in working history-making miracles. The leader absolutely trusts the people and they work astonishing miracles, inspired by this trust."

Obviously I am not alone in my ambivalence about miracles, for during the course of his initiatory ordeal in the bewilderness, Jesus himself rejects the temptation to magical worldly powers. Valentin Tomberg asks, "Why do the Gospels narrate the miracles?":

"If the purpose is to show evidence of the divinity of the one who performed them, it contradicts the spirit of Christianity; such an assertion would use the very means that the tempter offered Jesus Christ in the wilderness and that he rejected -- that is, using a miracle to convince the world of the power of truth. Moreover, the miracle argument is incompatible with the fact that Jesus himself cautioned against speaking of his miraculous acts (Luke 8:56)."

Furthermore, even during the course of the biggest miracle of them all, Jesus says to the "doubting Thomas" that "because you have seen me, you have believed." But "blessed are those who have not seen and have yet believed." In other words, there is something superior about seeing with the eyes of faith as opposed to the mere eyes of the flesh. Obviously, if I may say so.

What distinguishes good religion from bad religion is this issue of "power." All bad religions (that shall go unnamed, but you figure it out), and all bad religiosity -- including, for example, virtually all of the "new age" movement -- worship power, not God. The following book titles by the Mother of All Charlatans, Tony Robbins, say it all: "Unlimited Power: The New Science Of Personal Achievement." "Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!" There is nothing whatsoever in these books that Lil' Kim would object to in the least. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they are on his night stand, perhaps next to Jimmy Carter's latest anti-Semitic rant.

Let's just take one of the book descriptions and insert "Dear Leader" and "Korean" for "Tony" and "you," and it sounds just like a North Korean press release: "Dear leader has already unlocked the personal power inside millions of happy Koreans. He has proven to millions with his books, tapes, and speeches that by harnassing the power of the mind, the Korean people can do, have, achieve, and create anything they want for their lives. He has shown heads of state, royalty, Olympic and professional athletes, movie stars and children [I don't get the distinction--ed.] how to achieve. With Unlimited Power, Dear Leader passionately and eloquently reveals to the Korean people the science of personal achievement..."

Think for a moment how much more real magic there is in a mere sentence by Hayek or Friedman than in the eight-volume "Complete Quackery of Tony Robbins." For one thing, Robbins could only have become a wealthy fraud in a country guided by the real secrets of wealth -- secrets that are still unknown to the secular left, which I suppose is the core audience for this pseudo-religious nihilism. No proper religious person could fall for this kind of sting.

It's become such a cliche, but let's all repeat Coon emeritus Chesterton's famous formula together: When one abandons the truth, the problem is not that one will believe nothing, but rather that one will believe anything. Robbins has become a wealthy and "powerful" man by believing implicitly in this airtight adage and turning it to his advantage. If you see the world as he does, "pigeons" are everywhere, just waiting to be shaken down. Now that's power!

We see the same spiritual psychopathy in another new age titan, Deepak Chopra, whose book promises nothing less than "the secret of perfect love," the "secret of healing," the secret of "how to find a soul mate," the secret of having the most fulfilling career, and the secret of gaining a "personal breakthrough, a turning point, and a revelation." (Obviously Mr. Deepak can't keep a secret.) His "crystalline distillation of insights and wisdom" will transport you "to a sacred place where you can savor the nectar of enlightenment!," while he savors those sacred but playfully raucous money fights with his children inside the compound.

Again, when you step on such sacred cowpies, you are either impressed or are you nauseated. A Coon reaches for the Pepto and scrapes off his sensible footwear. Only an end-times, fully horizontalized infrahuman devoid of true religion could fall for this kind of extravagantly sinister piffle.

Now, back to the miracles. I see that I'm going to have to continue with this line of thought later, for I have merely laid the foundation while Dupree has enjoyed taking potshots at a couple of low-hanging anti-Coons. But let me say at the outset that I have no objection to biblical literalism per se. Rather, what I object to is only literalism, which once was a truism among Christians, but has somehow become an aberration due to the aberrant, er, falsism of fundamentalism. And this modern aberration can only ill-serve Christianity, as it promotes a narrow -- or shall we say "shallow" -- form of spiritual materialism that is simply not suited for Phase III man. Furthermore, it serves as an easy straw man for the contempt and mockery of secular tin men.

For, just as the "sacrifice" of Jesus is intended to be the last sacrifice, there is something about the biblical miracles that ironically intends them to be, if not the last miracles, then the last word on miracles -- a very different thing. In other words, if one comes away from the Gospels with the notion that it's a good idea to crucify innocent people because that's how you resurrect them, you have probably gotten the wrong message.

Just so, if you come away from the gospels with various ideas about how to turn water into wine, how to walk on water, or how to stretch a meal, it's possible that you are missing the point. But there is something critical about the nature and structure of the biblical miracles that we need to understand. Let Tony Robbins teach you how to walk on water -- or hot coals, anyway. We want to know how to walk on water, which is another matter entirely.

The vast majority of Mankind remains in ignorance; most humans spend their lives in spiritual darkness, at the crazy mercy of chance and accident. SubGeniuses, basking in the 5,000-watt Light of Dobbs, are also at the mercy of chance and accident -- yet given a boost by The Pipe Bringer, the seeker can "climb aboard" chance and accident and ride them like a cosmic surfboard on the oceans of the Luck Plane, "hanging ten" on the very same waves of randomness that cause humans such envious HATE.

For even if there's
actually no "reason" for anything, even if nothing can be known for sure in an unbelievable world where psychotics run the Department of the Interior and mutilate cattle, we can still retain one concrete ball of fact that the most shattered instincts cannot deny: Something is going on, and we deserve better. --"The Secrets of Slack," The Book of the SubGenius

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Theological Mind Jazz

I mentioned in the comments a couple of days a go that I stumbled upon this great little film on You Tube called The Universal Mind of Bill Evans. For those of you who are jazz fans, it's a must see, but even for you squares and moldy figs who aren't hip to the scene, it's a fascinating excursion into the mind of one of the great musical geniuses in history. For Evans was not just a musician, but a teacher and philosopher, and he obviously thought quite deeply about the creative process. Furthermore, unlike most philosophers, he was able to articulate his thoughts in a very straight forward and accessible manner.

In fact, this parallels his musical technique, which somehow combines a maximum of depth and accessibility. Unlike most jazz musicians, he enjoyed a level of commercial success because most anyone could appreciate his music. For one thing, he had a very unintimidating, "pretty" sound, so if one is not particularly musically sophisticated, Evans might just remind you of the pianist at the Norstrom in heaven. As Evans put it, "Especially, I want my work -- and the trios if possible -- to sing." That it does. He is the most lyrical of pianists.

But despite the outer accessibility, there is enough harmonic, melodic, contrapuntal and rhythmic complexity to keep a musicologist busy for a lifetime -- like a beautifully designed automobile that is even more beautifully engineered. At any given moment, there is so much "interior detail" going on -- musical problems, resolutions, flights of fancy, conversations with the other instrumentalists (usually in a trio format -- bass and drums), introspection, sadness, exuberance.

Another reader mentioned that his favorite pianist was Thelonious Monk. That's a fine choice, except that no one else can play like Thelonious Monk. His technique was so distinctive that if you try to imitate him, you'll just sound like a caricature. Interestingly, Evans' musical conception is so capacious that he was easily able to incorporate Monk without ever sounding like him. Monk just became another "color" in his musical palette. It reminds me of how Stevie Ray Vaughan was able to incorporate Hendrix into his technique. If you merely impersonate Hendrix, then it just sounds like bad Hendrix. It's not art, but mimicry.

I relate on a very personal level to much of what Evans says in the film. In my book I use a lot of musical analogies, because there is something about music that reflects the deep temporal structure of existence. I think this explains the near universal love of music. While music may not be "natural religion," in that it provides no moral code, no grace, no salvation, and no object of worship, it does in many ways represent "natural metaphysics" or "natural ontology."

In other words, music reveals things about the nature of reality, so that if one dwells deeply within music, one can gain universal insights into existence. Certainly this was the view of Wagner, who may not have been the greatest philosopher of music but was apparently the greatest philosopher with music. I'm not saying that I can appreciate his music, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn and I did read this fascinating book (which also inspired Future Leader's name).

Evans made so many provocative little observations in the film that I'm trying to remember them all. One of them was that honest jazz involves making one minute of music in one minute of time. I'd never thought of it this way, but that is exactly what makes it so alive. I just googled some unsourced quotes, and in one of them, Evans says that jazz is "performing without any really set basis for the lines and the content as such -- emotionally or, specifically, musically. And if you sit down and contemplate what you’re going to do, and take five hours to write five minutes of music, then it’s composed music. Therefore I would put it in the classical or serious, whatever you want to call it, written-music category. So there’s composed music and there’s jazz. And to me anybody that makes music using the process that we are using in Jazz, is playing Jazz."

In hearing these words, I instantly transposed them into the key of blogging, because that is exactly what I'm trying to do here: provide you Coons with 60 minutes or 90 minutes of intellection -- or "soul jazz," as it were -- in 60 or 90 minutes. My book, on the other hand, is a composition -- several years of intellection for several days of reading. (That's not completely accurate, since most of the book was written in little bursts of inspiration, but you get the point.)

People sometimes ask me, "Bob, when is the next failed book coming out?," but at this rate, I'm not sure there will ever be one, the reason being that "jamming" on the blog is so much more compelling than composing by myself in my lonely Coon den. I don't know if I'd want to -- or even could -- revert to composition again. Notice that Jesus -- there you go again, comparing yourself to Jesus -- did the same thing. Quite conspicuously, he did not sit down, spend a few years thinking about reality, and write a book. Interestingly, for a religion that is supposedly based on "the Book," Jesus is a poor example, for the Gospels provide no evidence that he ever touched one, with the possible exception of peeking at the Torah when the pharisees were out getting a sandwich at Cantor's deli.

Thus, when Jesus speaks -- for example, in the Sermon on the Mount -- he is giving you ten minutes of theology in ten minutes time. But in so doing -- in abiding in the spontaneity of the now -- he is also giving the listener eternity in ten minutes, which I think is the key point. Everything he knows -- and more importantly, is -- is compressed into the vehicle of that eternal moment.

This is exactly what an improviser such as Bill Evans is attempting to do in the moment, and it is exactly what I try to do with the blog. Now obviously, in order to do this, it only takes half a lifetime of discipline, preparation, and apprenticeship. Otherwise, your spontaneous musings will be as deep and interesting as Maureen Dowd or Andrew Sullivan or Markos Moulitsas or Bill Maher.

Evans says "I believe in things that are developed through hard work. I always like people who have developed long and hard, especially through introspection and a lot of dedication. I think what they arrive at is usually a much deeper and more beautiful thing than the person who seems to have that ability and fluidity from the beginning. I say this because it's a good message to give to young talents who feel as I used to." As Evans suggests in the film, too many budding musicians want to tackle major musical problems and develop a "style" -- which is the last phase -- before they have thoroughly understood and assimilated minor ones. True style can only come after that has been accomplished.

Once again, I immediately transposed this into my world. One of the downsides of democracy is that "everyone has an opinion." Even worse, everyone is a "philosopher," or a "theologian," or a "political scientist," or "environmentalist," or "psychologist." Frankly, most psychologists are not psychologists, let alone people who have never studied it in depth. Deepak Chopra is not a theologian any more than Daniel Dennett is a philosopher or Bill Maher is a political scientist, but because of the lowerarchical narcissism of the age, the question of their credentials does not even arise.

Evans makes a couple of key points along these lines. First, he talks about how the cathedral, so to speak, of his musical conception was built brick by brick, layer by layer. Only when he stably internalized one level of the hierarchy did he move on to the next. Interestingly, this exactly parallels Polanyi's conception of epistemology, as each discovery is internalized by the body and becomes a "platform" to probe more deeply into the unknown. In other words, in the process of discovery, the "known" eventually becomes an implicit background that we don't even think about any more, just as a blind person no longer feels a cane in his hand, but instantaneously transduces this into an "image" of the space around him.

In the film, Steve Allen -- who can't help himself from being a bit of a pretentious load -- makes a valid point when he compares it to the operation of a car. At first, you have to think about everything consciously -- steering, changing gears, applying the breaks, etc. -- but eventually this all becomes background. You might say that the car literally becomes an extension of the body. Whatever your mind wants to do with the car is instantly translated into the appropriate action without even consciously thinking about it.

It is the same way with philosophy, theology, and metaphysics. In a previous post I discussed my frustrating experience of attending a three-day "golf camp" paid for by my generous in-laws who were selfishly hoping that Mrs. G. and I would eventually be their golf partners. Although I am a natural athlete, my athleticism counted for bupkis. If anything, Dear Leader's renowned physical prowess just made him more impatient. At one point we were practicing chipping onto the green, and I was essentially flailing away, punishing the innocent turf below. The pro said, "here. Take the ball in your hand. Now just toss it underhand to where you want it to go. See? Easy. Now just do the same thing with the club."

In other words, the problem was that I was trying to hit the ball with the club instead of with my body and mind -- instead of using the club as a mere extension of the Gagdad soul. When I shoot hoops, I do this automatically. I don't think about anything except for the basket, and "swish!, Lakers win the championship in double overtime!" But in a mere three days, I couldn't internalize the golf club as an extension of my psychic substance.

I'm imagining what it would be like to have a piano as an extension of your body, so that musical thoughts at whatever level of sophistication could be instantaneously transmitted through your fingertps without even thinking about it. But in the case of Evans, it's more than just musical ideas. Rather, again, he is able to put everything he is into the music. The piano is such an extension of his soul, that it becomes an outer reflection of his interior world:

"Technique is the ability to translate your ideas into sound through your instrument. This is a comprehensive technique... a feeling for the keyboard that will allow you to transfer any emotional utterance into it. What has to happen is that you develop a comprehensive technique and then say, 'Forget that. I’m just going to be expressive through the piano....' To the person who uses music as a medium for the expression of ideas, feelings, images, or what have you; anything which facilitates this expression is properly his instrument."

Elsewhere Evans said, "First of all, I never strive for identity. That's something that just has happened automatically as a result, I think, of just putting things together, tearing things apart and putting it together my own way, and somehow I guess the individual comes through eventually." That's exactly how I feel with my own writing. Especially because of the discipline of blogging, it's gotten to the point that I'm pretty sure my identity comes through in everything I write. Of course, it's hard for me to say, since I am an "insider" to my own identity, and cannot experience it from the outside. However, it very much feels as if blogging has come to involve this spiraling reciprocal process of externalization and internalization of my soul.

In other words, if you want to "practice" -- which is to say, deepen yourself -- you will need a piano, or some other such instrument. As you externalize your musical interior, you gradually assimilate what you have exteriorized, and vice versa.

Evans makes a key point about the need for structure to "play against." Although jazz involves radical improvisation, it will be devoid of meaning -- not to say, dramatic tension -- if it is not in reference to a stable framework that is always being "referenced" in the background. Keith Jarrett, who was deeply influenced by Bill Evans, takes this to even greater extremes, starting with a standard and veering into 20 or 30 minute improvisational flights of fancy that never detach completely from the musical structure.

Evans makes the point that this kind of improvisation used to be common to "classical" music, but was lost by the 19th century, only to be resurrected by jazz musicians. Not only were people such as Bach or Mozart apparently wonderful improvisers, but by all accounts, Mozart was capable of making "45 minutes of symphony in 45 minutes!"

Once again, I couldn't help but wonder how this relates to theology, and to what we do here in Coonland. For, what if the inspired prophets and writers of the Gospels were more like Bill Evans than John Tesh or Dino? What if they could only have accomplished what they did by using their entire bodymind as a spontaneous vehicle for higher forces to express themselves through -- as opposed to "taking dication" like Mohammed? What if we're supposed to groove and jam on the Bible, not memorize and rewordgitate it in the manner of the Mohammedans?

One thing that I hope sets me apart from my New Age competitors is that I do not engage in theological "free jazz." Rather, although there is no doubt that I improvise, I always do so over the mystic chords of tradition. No matter how far afield I might go, I am always anchored to the structure that has been revealed to us by the Master Composer. Meaning is what takes place in the dynamic tension between structure and process -- not by slavish devotion to the structure, but by using it as a launch pad back into the vertical realm from which it arose in the first place.

My creed for art in general is that it should enrich the soul; it should teach spirituality by showing a person a portion of himself that he would not discover otherwise... a part of yourself you never knew existed. --Bill Evans

"Jazz's Perfect Afternoon":

Of course, for absolute modern jazz beginners, this is the best place to start (Evans had a major hand in its conception):

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Messiah, the Establishment, and Political Halitosis

Reader Brian, who stimulated my thoughts on Paul a couple of days ago, has a couple of follow-up observations and questions. He begins with Joan's argghhument that perhaps Paul's "zeal for what he thought was Truth, was ultimately the open door for the Light."

But prior to literally seeing the light, Paul was, as Brian writes, "obviously a bastard. However, I do think he thought he was serving God. This could perhaps differentiate him from the likes of Caiaphas who probably didn't give a damn about Truth and just wanted to be sure he didn't find himself irrelevant."

Brian continues: "So I'm led to see a potential parallel between Paul and Caiaphas and today's lefties who cynically manipulate folks for their own utopian control-freak nihilism, vs. those who honestly think that liberal policies are better (usually younger people who haven't really thought stuff through yet). Both are Pharisees, but I suspect only one of them commits the 'unpardonable sin.'"

Furthermore, "Perhaps many of today's former moonbats (i.e. David Horowitz) who have since seen the light were never quite like Jesse Jackson, despite the similarities of the policies they advocated. On the other hand, I have no doubt whatsoever that deep down Ted Kennedy is nothing more than a nihilist.

"If I bring up a good point in an intellectual discussion, a nihilist will out-shout me, subtly change the subject, call me a name, accuse me of hypocrisy, or do whatever it takes to 'win' the argument. Occasionally, I'll discover someone who will respond with, 'I never thought of it that way before. Hmmmm...'

"I would argue that both saint-killing and supporting affirmative action are evil. Nevertheless, Jesus died because a Pharisee wanted power, Maybe Stephen died because another Pharisee really thought Stephen opposed God. In both cases, Saints unjustly died, but was there a difference? After all, the former Pharisee damned himself, but the latter became a Saint himself.

"Do you think my analogy makes any sense? Do you think that the differences between cynical power-hungry leftists and those who are just dumb are in any way fundamental, or am I giving the idiots too much credit?"


There is much to cogitate upon here. First, I do not necessarily regard Caiaphas as one of the grand archetypal characters in the arc of salvation, more of a stock character or a "plot device," so to speak. In his theory of groups, Bion writes of the "messiah" (or sometimes "mystic") in a particular way. Using his terminology -- and ignoring for the moment any purely religious implications -- if Jesus is the "messiah," then Caiaphas represents the "Establishment." If nothing else, viewing it in this more abstract manner helps to remove any specifically anti-Semitic connotations with regard to Caiaphas. His Jewishness is incidental to his being voice of the Establishment. At various times, Christians have been their own worst Establishment.

In Bion's system, "The exceptional individual can be described in different ways. One can call him a genius, a mystic, a messiah." Bion used the term messiah "to refer to exceptional individuals in any field, whether scientific, artistic, or religious." Likewise, he used the term Establishment "to designate those who exercise power and responsibility in the state or in other institutions."

Please also bear in mind that when Bion talks about the group, he is also always talking about the individual, for a group can think and behave like a unitary entity, just as an individual mind is a protean, restless group with incoming thoughts and outgoing behavior that come from many different levels.

(In fact, a commenter expressed it quite well the other day. Let me see if I can go back and find it.... Be right back.... Found it.)

Reader Quake wrote, "An important point that Bob treated in passing should be emphasized: the human mind is not a closed system. The sum of all thoughts that you have on any given day are not all 'yours.' Some seep in from other people (yes, there is a fuzzy and unreliable cross transference). Some come from other 'planes' of being which interpenetrate ours (for instance, a plane or world of mind, inhabited by entities of pure thought-form). There is another plane of 'vital' forms that are made of emotions, and these can give you suggestions to misbehave. There are higher spiritual planes inhabited by angels and other high forms, and these can give us suggestions too. And some, like Bob's O-mail, come in from God [well, a Coon always does his level best, anyway -- ed]. A person's mind is a goulash of thoughts, and untangling what comes from where should be attempted. Raccoons probably do an automatic sorting of influences."

Quake has done a good job of describing an important aspect of Sri Aurobindo's yoga, which precisely involves sorting through and disentangling our own "mental group" and determining what is coming from where. For within your own mind is a "messiah" and an "establishment," just as the group, looked at in a certain way, has an "ego."

For example, this is what popularity polls attempt to gauge, say, how the country feels about President Bush, or the war, or Hillary Clinton, or socialized medicine. You will notice that the operative word is "feels," because trying to take a snapshot of the group's "mood" at any given time is an entirely irrational process. Now the group is relatively in touch with reality and accurately perceives Saddam as a threat and wants to topple him; now the group feels anxious and regrets it, and begins going into denial; now the group feeds its own anxiety with self-verifying delusions of propaganda and wants to run from Iraq. This is why trying to be a leader is like trying to preside over an unruly, petulant child with bipolar disorder, and why an "indulgent parent" such as a Clinton is such a poor leader.

Back to the group and the messiah. One thing the group -- any group -- is always hoping for is the messiah. For example, in recent months we have seen this play out to a ridiculous extent with the liberal media's bizarre adoration of that empty suit, Barack Obama. Please take me literally, for Bion's theory explains exactly why this deeply irrational process is going on, and why secular liberals would be most prone to the need to invent a messiah out of whole cloth in order to sustain the fantasy that they might be "saved." For the same reason, history ironically demonstrates time and again that leftists are most in need of a "satan" precisely because they do not believe evil exists.

One of the dangers of any systematic form of "establishment thought" is that it superimposes a rigid grid, so to speak, over O. But this is always "whistling past the graveyard," for the ghosts of what your artificial thought system excludes will always baby boomerang back to you, very much in the manner of someone who attempts to repress, say, all sexual thoughts. You can try to do that, but the unintegrated thoughts will simply seep back in like water through the floor boards, the walls, and the ceiling (furthermore, since they are repressed, they will remain primitive and unable to undergo growth).

It is just so with religion. Repress it and you will only see it everywhere, either in a hysterically threatening form ("the Christo-fascist takeover!) or in a transparently messianic form (Obama and, of course, the "Goracle"; the other day, the boneheaded Katie Couric actually referred to him as a "secular saint," but she is just stupid enough to say out loud what the liberal group mind is thinking). Do conservatives do the same thing with someone like Ronald Reagan? They certainly do. The difference, of course, is that Reagan was an actual political messiah who was completely at odds with the Establishment, whereas figures such as Obama and Clinton represent the Establishment par excellence. The Establishment will turn the genuine messiah into satan, which is exactly what the left did with Reagan and what Caiaphas did with Jesus.

(You will also note the truism that one of the difficult things about voting is that you never know if a Republican is just pretending to be a conservative [i.e., a political messiah] or whether a Democrat is just pretending not to be a liberal [i.e., an Establishment figure in disguise]. This speaks volumes about how one must know the truth in order to be able to lie about it.)

According to Bion, "the mystic or genius, bearer of a new idea, is always disruptive for the group; The Establishment tries to protect the group from this disruption. The problem that arises from the relation between the mystic-genius and the institution creates an emotional configuration that repeats itself in different forms throughout history."

Importantly, the messiah can be creative or nihilistic (e.g., Nietzsche, Marx), "and will certainly be considered both -- at some point -- by different parts of the group. It is a fact that every genius, mystic, or messiah is both things, as the nature of his contributions is bound to destroy certain laws or conventions, the culture or coherence of the group, or of some subgroup within a group." As such, "the Establishment must achieve, as one of its functions, an appropriate containment" so as to limit the messiah's "disruptive power."

Rome (the Establishment) could not contain this threatening messiah, so they put him to death. And from the self-interested standpoint of the Establishment, they were entirely warranted (so to speak) in doing so, even though it ultimately backfired. For this messiah could not even be contained by death, and ended up toppling the Establishment anyway.

Think about that one for a moment. Again, as we were discussing the other day, the deeper the cause, the deeper the effect. The cause of this messiah was so deep that its shattering effects continue to be felt today -- again, even if you only look at it in purely Bionian terms, let alone religious ones; for if truth is catastrophic, then Truth must be the biggest catastrophe of them all, shattering every man-made idol with which it comes into contact.

Understood in Bion's sense, it is not the least bit of hyperbole to say that the United States is the "messiah among nations." With this understanding in mind, it is entirely predictable that the Establishment -- e.g., the UN or the international left -- would react to us the way they do. The truly messianic liberal principles embodied in our founding documents absolutely shatter the leftist agenda into into so many bits of totoiletarian fasces.

Look at it this way: what do you call a passionate truth seeker whose object -- Truth -- is excluded by his own a priori assumptions? Why, you call him a secularist, or a materialist, or a leftist. By definition, they can never attain what they are seeking, for it can only be found in a vertical realm that is precisely excluded by his materialistic assumptions. Thus, any vertical man will be seen as a threat to horizontal man, so he will be attacked with the time-honored mechanisms of of envy, contempt, and triumphalism -- for example, in the contemptuous James Cameron's triumphant debunking of Christianity. Cameron no doubt congratulates himself for being such a revolutionary messiah, but he could not be a more petty voice of the establishment. He is Caiaphas. ("Prince of this world!")

Now, what is the difference between, say, Noam Chomsky and David Horowitz, one of whom is still an anti-messianic voice of nihilsim, the other of whom saw through that sinister world and came around to the other side? Like Paul, both are passionate truth-seekers, but one had his Road to Demascus experience and became blinded by truth, if not Truth. How to explain the difference?

I'm not entirely sure, and to a certain extent, only God can say, since we are in the realm of "weighing souls," and it is not ultimately up to us to judge the soul, only the behavior. Having said that, I certainly have no hesitation in proposing the idea that there is something thoroughly rotten about Chomsky's soul, whereas there was obviously something redeemable in Horowitz's. For when we sin, we can sin with the husk or we can sin with the kernel.

Speaking for myself -- but which seems to apply to most people who eventually grow up -- "when I was young and stupid, I was young and stupid." However, despite my youthful stupidity, looking back on it, I cannot think of any bad thing I ever did that either truly reflected my kernel or damaged it. Rather, it was always done with the husk, often out of insecurity, or anxiety, or some other neurotic motivation. Furthermore, when the light was shown to me, I did not -- could not -- reject it. Rather, my kernal was attracted to it in spite of my husk. From there, it was just a matter of throwing off the husk as the kernel grew in the presence of the light.

Like Paul, even when I was most confused, I was nevertheless a passionate truth-seeker. As such, I knew that appearances could not be the reality, and that deeper forces must be at play. However, if you are not religious, then you will look for these deeper forces elsewhere. This is the appeal of a Chomsky (and of all neo-Marxist ideologies of the left), as he essentially provides a paranoid conspiracy theory that serves as a replacement for the non-paranoid "conspiracy theory" of religion. For con-spiracy simply means "breathing together," so be careful with whom you breath. After all, the "breath of life" that was breathed into man is what lifts us into the vertical and distinguishes us from the tenured.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Century of Raccoon Life: March Forth, Mighty Little Beast!

Today we cerebrate on a century of rich Raccoon heritage.

Witnesses who were present at that little speakeasy in Bismark, North Dakota, swear that when Toots Mondello and Herman Hildebrand founded the International Order of Friendly Sons of the Raccoons on March 4, 1907, neither of them were consciously aware of the significance of the date. For March 4th is the only date of the year that is also a command, a duty, and a rallying cry that encompasses the Coon credo: March Forth into the vertical with noble tails entwined, ye mighty little beasts! Woooooo!

Of course, at first, the yearly cooniversary of our founding was mainly an occasion to hoist a few (and if the stories about brothers Herman and Toots are more than apocryphal, "stagger forth" was perhaps more accurate than "march forth"). This is why tonight at "beer o'clock," all dues-paying adult Coons everywhere in the world will raise the spirit of their choice (the "shot glazarus ceremony") and repeat the sacred mantra, "Fingers to fingers, thumbs to thumbs, watch out below, here she comes."

But subsequent generations of slightly less libationary Coons came to appreciate the bi-cosmic synchronicity of the date, especially after bylaw, sec. 2 was changed to require a public school diploma for membership. Before that, none of the members had heard of the word "synchronicity."

"Where have we been? Where are we going?" These are not just idle questions that Toots posed in the early morning hours of March 5, 1907. Think of how much things have changed in just 100 years. Today he would have mumbled those questions in the back of a squad car instead of a paddy wagon. He would have been fined and given community service instead of released into the custody of a none-too-pleased Gladys waving that formidable rolling pin. Wasn't that punishment enough? Have we become a crueler society? Or was the greater cruelty being married to Gladys? That was certainly Toots' view.

When we prophylactically reflect upon a century of Coondom, perhaps we first notice the things that have changed, including more liberal divorce laws that perhaps might have given Toots a chance at coonjugal fulfillment. Perhaps not, for whereas Herman was the more coontemplative "much loved disciple," Toots was always the more headstrong, fire-breathing Ovangelist. Both temperaments were required to accomplish the mission, for the "church of Herman" and the "church of Toots" are ultimately one.

And since "Raccoon nature" is eternal and unchanging, it is equally striking that the nature of the anti-Coon adversary is also unchanging. For example, the headline of the March 4, 1907 New York Times reads,

Peasant Leaders Tell Meeting a Great Revolution Is Impending
Mass Meeting to Aid Russian Freedom to be Held To-night

"Alexis Aladin, formerly leader of the Peasant Party in the Russian Duma, and N. W. Tchaykovsky, 'Father of the Russian Revolution,' talked of impending revolution in Russia before the Ethical Culture Society in Carnegie Hall yesterday morning. Mr. Tchaykovsky said that the Russian autocracy is 'dancing over the crater of a volcano,' and that even now it is too late to avoid violence and bloodshed. 'A reign of terror had begun in Russia,' he said, and the responsibility for it all rests justly on the Russian Government....

"It was announced that a mass meeting would be held in Carnegie Hall to-night to arouse sympathy and interest for the people of Russia in their struggle for liberty.... The meeting will be under the auspices of the Society of the Friends of Russian Freedom.... To-night's meeting is to be essentially a meeting to express indignation and encourage the fight for Russian freedom and not a meeting to raise funds."

Same old New York Times. Same upside-down moral compass. Same uncritical sympathy for the enemies of mankind. Same New York sophisticates congratulating themselves on their enlightened morality. Same blaming of the victim and siding with the aggressor. Same alliance with America's enemies. Same confusion of terrorists with freedom fighters. What else is new?

But today, of all days, is not a day for looking back with bitterness. Rather, it is a day for Marching Forth with.... with unbitterness, which I believe was one of the rejected early mottos -- not because we don't believe it, but because nothing rhymes with "unbitterness." The closest thing was "critterness," which some of our southern brothers favored, but gave the fight song too regional a vernacular. In a compromise, the final version of our marching song became,

In the West and in the East
There’s a mighty little beast
For courage there is no other.
When the chips are all at stake
We are proud to call him brother.
So with our noble tails entwined
And a spirit strong of mind
We'll have hearts that cannot melt.
In the forest, in the trees
On the land or seven seas
We're brothers under the pelt

It was felt that there was no need to specifically commemorate our founding by referencing "marching forth" in the marching song, since, after all, it is a "marching song," and no one marches backwards except for progressives. "March forth." It's what we do -- in word and in deed -- but always with "tails entwined."

Obviously, in his wildest beer-fueled Coon-vision reveries, Toots could not have foreseen the technological wonders of the present age, in which Coons from all over the world could coongregate and entwine their tails in cyberspace, of all things. I just checked out my site meter, and it shows me that at this moment (6:03AM) there are Coons (or possibly anti-Coons.... gee, I hope not, but I suppose it's inevitable) in ten different countries besides the U.S. including the UK, Germany ("das Kulturcoons"), Canada ("Coonucks"), Australia ("Koongaroos"), Singapore (hmm, anti-Coon?), Pakistan (hello, Osama! Your ass is ours), Netherlands ("Vikoons"), Korea ("Coonfucians"), Spain ("Coonaradas"), and "Unknown Country (probably just some other place outside the U.S. such as Manhattan or Berkeley).

When you think about it, this is remarkable, since my book has not yet been translated into most of these languages. My publisher has informed me that, in order for that to happen, they want me to first translate it into english. They've always been very supportive like that.

Yesterday we were discussing the question of whether Paul chose God or was chosen by Him, and I think we all agreed that the latter was the case. Even if he had wanted to, Paul could never have chosen, much less designed and implemented, his mission. Most people who "want" to become prophets or gurus or spiritual teachers are driven by impure motives, since it is always out of one's hands anyway. These gifts are graces from heaven, not self-willed, and God generally chooses unlikely vehicles just to emphasize the centrality of grace (although it is certainly necessary to align our will with the grace, which is where free will does come into play).

It was the same coonundrum with Toots and Herman. Did they "choose" Coonhood? Or were they merely instruments of higher forces? Knowing what we know about the early lives of Toots and Herman, I don't think anyone could make a case for the former. Coon lore euphemistically refers to the "boyish peccadilloes" and "legal entanglements" of their youth, but for one thing, since when is a 35 year old man a youth, and since when is a state penitentiary a "reform school?"

Please, I do not stand here today in judgment of the character of our founders, which speaks for itself, at least since those "lost" documents were discovered through the Freedom of Information Act. No, I think we have to be honest with ourselves, and realize that none of us deserves to be called "Coon" -- although we must never stop trying to earn the title, and we must always pay the $2 monthly dues through Petey's Sad Little Tin Cup.

For as Toots whispered in his dying breath before sloughing off the pelt, "Why do you call me Coon? There is no Coon but the Grand High Exhalted Mystic Ruler."

And Petey's term isn't up until sunset on March 4, 2010, when we name our new Exalted Ruler during the grand mystic ceremony of the Nocturnal O-mission.

Words to reflect upon and coontemplate on this sacred day:

March forth and go vertical, young Coon!

From the hallowed streets of Greenpernt,
To the shores of Sheepshead Bay,
From the Verrazano Narrows,
To Canarsie across the way...
We have come together, one and all,
In fellowship to commune,
And to glorify the Grand Exalted
Brotherhood of Raccoons.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

De-mask Us On the Road to God

Reader Brian asks, "You've alluded to this before -- and may have dealt with it in the comments when I wasn't looking -- but I am incredibly interested in your take on Saul of Tarsus becoming Paul. His mindset was quite hostile to Christ, yet he had an almost involuntary conversion. Or was it involuntary? So many who wish to serve their Creator fall short because of internal divisions, etc., but Saul absolutely wanted the opposite, yet he became the man who spread the Gospel more effectively than anybody. Did God reach out to him, or did he reach out to God, or is there even a difference?"

(As always, I have no idea if what follows is kosher Christianity. It's just one Coon's vision.)

As a matter of fact, I was thinking about this subject just yesterday. For in a certain way, the story of SaulPaul is as central to the Bible -- and to the arc of salvation -- as several other scriptural "centers," or "axes," all of which seem to parallel or reflect back and forth on each other. For example, one obvious center is in Genesis 1:1, with the creation of the cosmos -- or, to be perfectly accurate, the "withdrawal" of God and the polarization of beyond-being -- the Absolute -- into being and existence, or "heaven and earth." (In Vedanta, one would say "purusha" and "prakriti," or witness and activity; or saguna brahman [i.e., God as subject of the world] and maya [appearances].)

This scriptural center is deliberately paralleled in John 1:1, which even begins with the same three words, "In The Beginning." In both instances, "beginning" superficially refers to the "horizontal" beginning, as in the beginning of a sequence. But the deeper sense of the word has to do with the "vertical" beginning, which equates to the existential center. This center is not in space or time per se; rather, space and time are reflections of the center. "In the beginning was the Word" does not (just) mean "a long time ago," but in the center of each now. It is the "light that shines in the darkness," since light is precisely that which radiates from the center to the periphery.

Now, a man was sent by God -- i.e., the center -- "to bear witness of the Light" -- i.e., the radiation from the divine center. His name was John. He was required because, although the light shines in the dark, the dorks don't get it, so they need a pretty in-your-face kind of guy to point it out to them. John was just that man. As such, he represents another important center, a sort of "reflected center" who was not the light but who could see the light.

Jesus obviously represents the full embodiment of the center at the periphery. A couple of days ago we spoke of black holes, and how they pull everything into their vortex, so that nothing escapes. In a certain sense, Jesus might be thought of as the opposite, as a sort of "white hole" as it were, that pulls all of creation into its wake. You have heard of the esoteric tenet, "as above, so below," or, to be precise, "That which is below corresponds to that which is above, and that which is above corresponds to that which is below, to accomplish the miracles of the One Thing."

Another fundamental axiom is the greater the cause, the greater the effect. Thus, if Jesus is who he says he was, then it should be no surprise whatsoever that his effect continues to ripple through existence down through the centuries, like a depth charge dropped from heaven into the ocean of existence. It is not "speaking poetically" to say that we are surfing one of those little waves right now, no? If not, what are we doing? Just sitting here making s*** up at 5:00 in the morning? Er, I don't think so.

The Mystery of Golgotha represents an exact analogue of the mystery of creation itself. For if creation is God's kenosis, or self-emptying (and spontaneous self-giving) , then Jesus' work on the cross represents another central kenosis, a complete self-emptying, even into the "negative existence" of death. For Jesus does not merely die, but takes on the mantle of death in order to join ranks with the great "brotherhood of the dead." As Balthasar has written, when it is said that Jesus descended into hell on Holy Saturday, "descend" should not be understood in its active sense, but the strictly passive sense. He fell and fell and fell, just like humans, to the very periphery of existence, the furthest point from the light of the radiant cosmic center. Only when he hit rock bottom could the "fall" be reversed, the rock bottom nihil of dark death being "relatively absolute" separation from God.

Now this is all well and good for God, Son's of God, Light, Logoi, hand-selected apostles, and the like. Where do we fit in -- regular guys and gals, ordinary stumblebums, rank and foul earthlings?

Here I think that Saul serves as an archetypal illustration of the divine center as it manifests in fallen man. For just as Jesus represents the center crashing into the periphery, Saul ultimately represents the perpiphery making its way back to the center. In fact, Saul is not just an ordinary peripheral man who is ignorant of the Light. Rather, he is like the ACLU or the MSM or the Democrat party. He is specifically at war with the light. He is "breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord," perhaps sometimes even threatening lawsuits. He is the envy of the ACLU, since he didn't have to be a sneaky weasel with a brief case, but could directly make "havoc of the church, entering every house and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison."

Thus, Saul represents another kind of center, a perverse center, even the "center of perversity." He is the "center of (not at) the periphery," so to speak, at war with the true center. Paradoxically, he must obviously be quite full of himself, the opposite of the self-emptying, radiant center. But his fullness does not bring peace but persecution, just like anyone with too much self esteem.

As we have been reading lately, psychologists are finally catching up to the self-evident truth that "self esteem" is neutral at best, but usually destructive. Most of the problems in the world are caused by people with too much self esteem -- dictators, criminals, newspaper editors, etc. Because they are so full of themselves, there is no space for God, which requires self emptying of one's own (false) center. As Paul would later say -- I'm paraphrasing here from memory, "It is not I who live any longer, but Christ in me" -- i.e., the real center at his center, rather than the bogus center of the hypertrophied ego. One or the other must go.

Since the false center of the ego represents an ontological nothingness, its resultant darkness envies the light. This envy is the dreary joy of the joyless, who simply spend their petty lives grinding away at truth, beauty, and virtue, as do so many lie-roasted academia nuts. Nowadays they might call it "speaking truth to power" in order to elevate themselves in their own eyes. Or they might give each other academy awards, or Pulitzers, or Nobel prizes, or even Daytime Emmys. These external supports are all necessary to prop up peripheral man and disenable his consciousness of guilt. No doubt if Saul were alive today, he would have been given a Nobel Peace Prize for his important work in combating extreme Christianism. He would join the ranks of other recent winners -- men and institutions at war with the center such as Yasser Arafat, Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, Mohamed El Baradei, the U.N., etc.

But then, on the "road to Damascus," as the cliche goes, Paul has a profound experience that pulls him from the periphery to the center. In its own way, this event is as principial as its reverse, when the center emptied out to the periphery in Genesis I and on Holy Saturday. For suddenly, in an instance of "quantum change," someone who had been at war with the center snaps like a rubber band into its opposite. If you can imagine the big bang as an infinite point radiating outward to the periphery, this would represent the opposite of that movement: perhaps the gnab gib.

The first and last step on the spiritual path is "repentence," which actually comes from the Greek metanoia which is simply to "turn around." Instead of turning our back to the central sun, we look around and see it face-to-face. Instead of running away from it, or struggling against it, we embrace it, like flowers that naturally orient themselves to the sun and open up in its presence.

Saul "opened up." At once he was in the presence of the central light which "shone all around him" (for how could it not, if one's eyes are open?), and fell down, Saul t' the earth. 'Efall and 'ego boom! In fact, we all fall what seems like a long distance. But in reality, it's just back to the ground, the same ground you were crawling on to begin with.

"Saul, why are you persecuting me? You're acting like a freaking ACLU goon. What's up with that?"

"Homena-homena-homena.... I was scared about the imminent Christo-fascist takeover, like I read about on dailykos... But w-what do you want with me?

"Before getting into that, why don't you just assimilate what's happened so far? Go have a little clubhouse meeting with yourself. Walking on water wasn't built in a day."

"Mmmmm, but I'm blind. I can't see anything."

"Yes, I know that. This is not in the book I've been working on, so you'll have to read between the lines. The point is not that you are blind. Rather, the point is that you can no longer "see" your previous world. It no longer exists because it never really existed. You are now in the land of the Real, but you do not yet have the sensory organs to see it. You are like unto someone who is snow blind. The problem is not darkness, but too much light. Now get lost for a few days, unplug, chill, relux and call it a deity. And turn off your cell phone! If any Romans call, you're not home, got it?"

We are then told that Saul spent the subsequent three days without sight, without food, and without liquid, simply shut up in his existential darkness.

This, of course, parallels the Jews' 40 years of wandering in the desert, Jesus' 40 days of fasting in the bewilderness, and ultimately the three days of the passion. In each case, "emptiness" at the periphery (i.e., "wilderness," "desert") is a prelude to "fullness" or "resurrection" at the center. Specifically, Saul's emptiness is filled with the Holy Spirit. He is charged with a mission, for if Jesus took care of the R & D, then Paul shall be the marketing department. He is to spread the good news of the center to the periphery, to "bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel."

Paul has a new name and new vocation (which means "calling"). His earth name is gone, as is his secular mission. Now he has a divine name and a divine mission. His sight is restored, but it's not like the old sight. Rather, he is granted his Coon Vision, as "the scales fall from his eyes." Then he arises back from the ground and stands as a truly Upright Man, an I-amissary of the center instead of a bipedal beast at the periphery.

Probably my favorite song is In the Garden by Van Morrison. I suppose if one must have a funeral, then I'd like it played at mine. Like Bob Dylan, he fools around with the pronouns, but I'm guessing it's autobiographical:

You wiped the teardrops from your eye in sorrow
As we watched the petals fall down to the ground
And as I sat beside you I felt the
Great sadness that day in the garden

And then one day you came back home
You were a creature all in rapture
You had the key to your soul
And you did open that day you came back to the garden

The olden summer breeze was blowin' on your face
The light of God was shinin' on your countenance divine
And you were a violet colour as you
Sat beside your father and your mother in the garden

The summer breeze was blowin' on your face
Within your violet you treasure your summery words
And as the shiver from my neck down to my spine
Ignited me in daylight and nature in the garden

And you went into a trance
Your childlike vision became so fine
And we heard the bells inside the church
We loved so much
And felt the presence of the youth of
Eternal summers in the garden

And as it touched your cheeks so lightly
Born again you were and blushed and we touched each other lightly
And we felt the presence of the Christ

And I turned to you and I said
No Guru, no method, no teacher
Just you and I and nature
And the father in the garden

No Guru, no method, no teacher
Just you and I and nature
And the Father and the
Son and the Holy Ghost
In the garden wet with rain

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Invisible Church of the Perpetual Raccoon

Are there collective psychospiritual weather patterns? Yesterday, most everyone commented on what a strange day it felt like, beginning with the strange absence of comments. As Cosanostradamus put it in his cosmic weather report, "birth [congrampalations, Nomo!--GB], death, rebirth, waves of light, black holes, wild weather." Tornadoes and stock market crashes... Ms. E. said it felt like a mixed atmosphere in which "the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold; when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade." Will called it a "very quiet dream-like day, a liminal day." Another Bob observed that it was an eerily "quiet day," and ominously added, "I hope everybody's OK."

It was certainly a not-okay day for me. For whatever reason, I woke up with low blood sugar and had some difficulty getting it up into the normal range all day -- as if there were some kind of "metabolic fire" burning in me. I've certainly felt the fire in recent weeks, but this was too much. I was uncharacteristically under -- or was I in? -- the weather all day. Weird.

But this mutual perception of a "weird day" does bring up the issue of our "collectivity" and just where it resides, for although "interconnectedness" surely exists as a consequence of the principle of Wholeness that flows through every artery of the cosmos, there is no particular "place" where it can be located. You can't point at wholeness from the outside, only experience it from the inside (which is the secret of consciousness, which is a reflection of the Creator's unifying interior wholeness-amdist-diversity). This causes a lot of confusion for philosophers and metaphysicians who try to arrive at wholeness additively instead of beginning with it as an assumption, which one must do.

It seems that a group is a group by virtue of "tuning in," so to speak, to some sort of resonant field of consciousness. The essential point is that a group is not fundamentally externally related, or it's not really a group. Rather, it's just a "crowd" or a "mob." But a true group has an interior relationship, as if each of the members is literally tuned into the same frequency. What is so jarring, for example, in reading one of the crazy websites of the angry left, such as the dailykurse or huffingandpissed, is that they resonate on this horribly plangent and quite primitive frequency in whatever they write about. I am quite sure you all know what I mean, even if you've never thought of it this way before. The surface structure of the topic hardly matters -- they can be talking about economics, or the war, or science, or religion, but whatever it is, the main thing you will detect is the deep structure of this painfully dissonant energy.

Now, in fairness, someone will no doubt say to me, "Bob, that's not a vibration you're feeling. It's just the unpleasant sensation of your own disagreement." Could be, but I don't think so. For example, I work in forensic psychology, so I am accustomed to crafting sound and unassailable medico-legal arguments. Part of this involves taking the report written by the whore who works for the other side and reducing it to dust with facts, logic, and the law. In doing so, there is "passion" involved, but it is nothing like the feeling of wading into the left wing fever swamps.

For one thing, the latter is a hellish world in which facts and rudimentary logic generally do not apply. Rather, the first thing one notices is that this world is held together by "feeling" or "sentiment," not by logical coherence. Underneath the "political left" is a "psychological left," and latter is far more primitive and dangerous, for they literally inhabit a self-contained psychological space similar to the black holes discussed yesterday. No light escapes. These people really do want to see the Vice President murdered, as we witnessed at huffington the other day. They really do idealize a thug such as Hugo Chavez. They really do hate George Bush much more than Saddam Hussein.

A religion is very much a resonant worldspace in the sense described above. For example, this is what the Master means when he says that he is present when any two or more meet in his name. This is quite literally true. The logos is magically made present through the triangulation of two people, somewhat similar to the manner in which a holograph works. My technical description is probably lacking, but I believe the hologram results from the interference pattern of two different beans of light. In any event, that's certainly how it works spiritually.

For example, this is how our Unknown Friend in Meditations on the Tarot can speak to us so intimately from beyond the horizon of death. I realize that is a challenging book for kits, but once you allow yourself to enter its world, it is as if you have entered this incredibly beautiful spiritual cathedral that the two of you are leisurely investigating together. He is your congenial tour guide, showing you this or that, often dwelling on random little points of arcane interest. The point is that it is a world -- and a beautiful one at that. It too resonates at a frequency -- the frequency being love, but also truth and beauty.

This is obviously what the secular person does not -- cannot -- understand about leading a religious life. They accuse us of "escapism," of believing in strange myths to shield us from the harsh realities of existence, in particular, death and loss. However, the opposite is patently true, at least for the invisible brotherhood of Raccoons. For us, religion is an inscape into the most beautiful supraterranean cave art ever co-created by human beings.

I have mentioned before that I happened to marry into a family of secular Jews, some of whom are quite unapologetic "anti-Jews." For example, only a Jew (or maybe Jimmy Carter) could get away with writing Uncle Peter's book on how the Holocaust is just a big PR scam to advance Israel's political interests.

(Don't worry -- I'm not airing dirty laundry in public. I like him and he likes me, even though he charitably regards my views as "not even insane." It is fascinating to talk to him, for it is fair to say that we agree on nothing, from the essential to the trivial. People talk about what it would be like to encounter an alien from another planet with a completely different frame of reference. Ahem. How concrete does one have to be to believe it is necessary to leave earth in order to have a close encounter of the third kind? Most Coons don't have to even leave their own family. The bottom line is that there are not enough Coon families for all Coons, so many of us had to drop into a non-Coon habitat, to put it mildly. In the case of Mrs. G. and myself, we consciously prayed for a little kit to come down into our Coon den. It worked.)

Now, if I were a less congenial fellow, I could easily turn a conversation with Uncle Peter into an ireworks show, but what would be the point? He lives in one world, I live in another. Can't we all just get along? For him, the question never arises as to whether he lives in "a" world, only "the" world. People talk about how religious fundamentalists live in their own world, but I cannot think of anyone with so naively parochial, crimped, and predictable a world as academia and the liberal media -- or primitive New York Timesman. You give me the topic and I'll tell you what they think. But my world -- if I may say so -- is fundamentally a world of surprise and of inexhaustible novelty. I never know what metaphysical goodies are awaiting me in the morning, including this post, for example. Nor do I have any idea where it's leading. Rather, I'm just following this little creek that was here in the morning when I got up.

In my world, it is impossible to be cynical. Yes, I am cynical about their world below -- how could one not be? -- but the eternal regeneration of my world is the best possible ungnowculation against cyncism. Again, some might say that it is a "naive" world, but that is not quite right, for we are as wise as serpents around here. Rather it is an innocent world, and the fact that this world coexists with the other world is something of a miracle -- that one can recapture one's primordial innocence and live as man was intended in this fallen world.

I had never attended any Jewish services until I got married. Naturally, just because my in-laws are secular, it doesn't mean that they don't try to resurrect the dead ghost of their Jewish past on sacred occasions. So I've attended these functions -- weddings, bar mitzvahs, funerals, etc. While my relatives experience them as a social rituals, I remember on my very first visit to the synagogue, I realized that I was in contact with the sacred. In fact, I'm omitting my marriage, which was undoubtedly my first participation in a Jewish ritual. If the event had been presided over by a Christian holy man, then my relatives would have undoubtedly regarded his words as slightly sinister blah blah; if it had been a Vedantin priest, it would have been just goofy blah blah; but the fact that it was a rabbi made it just plain innocuous blah blah, the same old same old testament.

But not for me. First of all, the language was all new to me, so it was not saturated. Furthermore, I found the words of the rabbi so spiritually resonant and psychologically inspiring, that I knew I was in the presence of the sacred and the holy, and that my marriage was being blessed by this divine light. A resonant "world" was successfully invoked and tapped into, at least for me and for Mrs. G. For the rest, it was essentially a sentimental occasion, "sentimentality" being one of the most common replacements for religion among secular people. (Incidentally, I do not see now people who "write their own vows" could match the sacred potency of the words written by "no one" for "everyone.")

(By the way, until this very day, I had thought it was "Rabbi Kuhn." Only now do I realize it was "Rabbi Coon.")

Now, Rocky Raccoon asked a good question yesterday. He "was wondering today about the Arc of Salvation. Both Phase I and II were followed by a ‘book.' Do you think we have a new ‘book’ on the way for the 3rd Phase?"

No, I don't think so, although I suppose it would be a good hobby for me to try. But what will happen is that people will return to the original texts but understand them with "eyes made new" -- i.e., with Phase III Coon vision. They will "arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time."

And then perhaps each person will write their own book based upon their encounter with the Real -- sort of like how we can all respect giants like Beethoven but still "sing our own song." You know -- speaking of innocence -- something like this:

Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud
Sing out strong
Sing of good things not bad
Sing of happy not sad

Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not
Good enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song


Folks, I hope this admission doesn't reduce my esteem in your ears, but -- I'll say it -- I am a big Carpenters fan. At the time (the early 70's) no one was regarded as less hip, but in hindsight, we can see that no one was more courageously "counter culture." I certainly dismissed them. But their musical sophistication speaks for itself -- probably no one aside from Brian Wilson wrote more complex vocal harmonies than Richard Carpenter, not to mention the extraordinarily subtle instrumental arrangements and production standards that rival Steely Dan -- and the unique voice of Karen Carpenter aches with a sad innocence and depth of longing that went unappreciated at the time (at least artistically). She is the greatest female pop vocalist of her generation (her phrasing and technique are so much more subtle than Babs). If you can put away your preconceptions, their masterpiece, A Song For You, is an amazing headphone experience (sounds richer on good vinyl -- the transcendent Goodbye to Love is awesome on Dupree's turntable). Any musican who is studying arrranging could profit from the experience. Here's the AMG review.

And no, I'm not gay.

(For you beginners and young kits, this is probably the best introduction. It has versions of songs that were actually remixed by Richard Carpenter for the digital age, so they sound closer to contemporary production values and more full on a CD player.)

From On Top of the World, Lookin' Down on Creation to the Kit who Fell to Earth:

(Which reminds me, Sal: photo of sweater coming soon.)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Metaphysical Food Pyramid (3.15.09)

Reader Bob says, "I love what you're doing with the Arc of Salvation. I think we have a huge problem with the Arc remaining fossilized in geography though. As a technologist myself, I don't see how we survive what the non-Coons are about to do to us with our own coonkind's technology -- I do believe we all need to become Coons."

Another reader asked me what I thought about a book by an eminent physicist whose thesis is that time does not really exist. True, a number of reviewers felt the book was so boring that they thought it would never end, but endless time is not the same as timelessness.

Obviously this physicist has never heard of the Islamists, who are days away from the nuclear bomb but centuries from the nuclear age. That's a long time. In other words, it takes only one Islamist to disprove all of the quantum physicist's elegant theories about the non-existence of time. For time is not an empty and abstract category of mere duration, nor is it merely an illusory by-product of change. Rather, human time -- which is a distant echo and reflection of divine time -- is both full and directional.

Of all people, the scientist should be aware of the various developmental stages he had to have traversed in order to end up a scientist capable of detached, abstract cognition about the foundations of reality. A rock cannot do that. Nor an animal, a child, or a radical imam. The changes that occur on the way from child to man are not merely horizontal but vertical. As Ken Wilber has said, true development -- which is to say transcendence -- is not just a matter of rearranging the furniture on the floor of a building, but taking the elevator to the next floor.

Any materialist has failed the first test of spirituality -- or "temptation in the wilderness" -- which is to not try to turn stones into bread, or quantity into quality. For in so doing, the materialist inevitably reduces bread to stones, or life to death, spirit to matter. We are left with only stones, so there is "nothing left to eat," speaking metaphysically. And with nothing to eat, there is no way to grow. But if time is an illusion -- a mere "quantity" -- then growth cannot be real anyway. A man is just a large child.

Those of a materialistic bent like to say that religion is speculative, but in a very real sense, the opposite is true. When it comes to metaphysics -- the science of the absolute -- the scientist can only speculate, while the religiously informed person has access to a realm of perennial knowledge and truth that is as stable and secure as a rock, for it is the "axis of the Real." It reflects truths that cannot be untrue. For example, Paul's delineation of vertical levels of maturity along this vertical axis is a universal truth of spirituality: "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

Thus, at its very heart, Christianity is clearly both evolutionary and developmental. No Christian could ever maintain that "time is an illusion," for time is of the essence of Christian life -- again, not the abstract quantitative duration of the physicist, but the explicitly qualitative time that distinguishes the spiritual child from the spiritual adult in the arc of salvation.

Elsewhere in the same epistle Paul proposes a three part schema of spiritual development: infant, child and man. Each requires a different kind of "food." In 1 Corinthians 3:3, he implies that the infant, or "babe," is equivalent to the carnal man, an ironic reversal of secular hubris, in that carnal man is but a spiritual babe in the woods. The infant can only be fed milk rather than solid food (which is for the child) or meat ( which is for the adult). Thus, as one moves up the developmental axis of spirituality, we eventually graduate to meat -- not only meat, of course, but as a supplement to the other foods. To try to live only on meat would be somewhat analogous to trying to live only on vitamin pills, which are highly potent but not necessarily nourishing if taken out of context. Metaphysics without religion is like the vitamins without the food, which "activates" the vitamins, so to speak.

Needless to say, a Raccoon is not just mdesxcarnivorous, but omnivorous. If you check out the library of a typical Coon, the first thing you will notice is that they'll eat almost anything -- literature, poetry, science, psychology, philosophy, scripture, theology, mysticism, the Baseball Encyclopedia -- but not in an indiscriminate manner. Rather, they respect the "food pyramid," which obviously has a top and a bottom. You've seen the Raccoon food pyramid on the back of any dollar bill -- it has that little eye at the top, radiating light.

An eye radiating light? How does that work? I thought the eye only receives light. How can it radiate light?

Don't worry. We'll get to that.

Not infrequently we have visitors in the Cosmos who are infants or children, which is why they find me indigestible if not frankly nauseating. I'm trying to think of a delicate way to put this, but those of you with babies of your own are certainly accustomed to dealing with the full spectrum of bodily fluids. Let us just say that Dupree's unenviable job is to clean up the projectile vomit these babies leave behind here.

Paul says to his audience -- which by now numbers in the billions, including you -- that there was a time when he could not speak to you as an adult -- not as a spiritual person but only as a carnal one. Furthermore, he "fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still very carnal." Why is that? Because, "where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?"

Well? What say you?

When Paul refers to "divisions among you," he also means divisions within you -- which is to say, within oneself. For among other things, both the line of spiritual development and the arc of salvation are a function of increased integration -- which is to say wholeness, which is to say centration. If your eye [I] is single, then the whole body is full of radiant light; conversely, if it is divided, your I is full of darkness.

Full of darkness? Darkness does not actually exist in any positive sense. Rather, it is only the absence of light, a seemingly paradoxical fact, since the cosmos is made of light. So how can someone be "full" of "absence?" If it is the nature of light to radiate, how do we end up with all these non-radiating lacunae of darkness, both individually and collectively?

Before discussing how it happens, let us just stipulate that it only happens all the time. As a matter of fact, the human being is the only living thing that can be "filled with darkness." Light is knowledge just as love is its heat, which is why these individuals and cultures are filled with an absence of each -- which is to say envy and strife, just as Paul says.

For envy is both a cause and an effect of existential emptiness. It is truly "darkness visible," because it represents insatiable emptiness, exactly analogous to the black holes of quantum cosmology. The strife that accompanies these "hungry ghosts" is simply the "giant sucking sound" produced by their contact with the world. The perennial "class envy" of the left is simply the clattering noise produced by institutionalized darkness as it tries to pull down everything round it. This is why it is so indiscriminate and cannot just attack "wealth." Rather, you will have noticed that it also always pulls truth, beauty, and decency into its vortex -- the three "faces" of metaphysical light.

The black hole is an emptiness that pulls everything into it, including light, which becomes "inoperative" in its presence. The primordial property of light, like love, is to "radiate," and in fact, light is a property of radiation rather than vice versa. The envious, divided person is a black hole who will suck the light out of you to no purpose whatsoever-- no good purpose, anyway. The light simply disappears beyond the event horizon, into the darkness of their corrupted soul. Elsewhere in the cosmos, light radiates into darkness, but in the case of a black hole, light is surrounded and swallowed up.

Talk to the mullahs! Yes, why not? Why not talk to a black hole?

The U.N.? A black hole of darkness visible within the heart of light. If Turtle Bay were any closer to Washington D.C., perhaps the Shining City on A Hill would be pulled into the Valley of of the Shadow of Death. Understood metaphorically, this could actually happen, since it has already happened to most of the rest of the world, which has fallen into this night-cloaked principality ruled by the Cosmocrats of the Dark Aion.

Paul goes on to suggest that human beings may be the efficient or formal cause of their own evolution, but that the Creator is the final cause. In other words, you may cultivate the soil, plant the seeds, and water the garden -- in fact, it is your duty to do so -- but you are not responsible for the growth that results. Rather, as Paul says, "God gives the increase," which is another way of saying that we do not invent ourselves but become ourselves. We are God's "field" or "building," and the strength and resilience of your building will be tested by fire. If it is built on a foundation of reality it will endure, but otherwise it will be destroyed.

Again, time is not mere duration, but the time it takes for something to become what it is -- say, an acorn to become an oak tree or a milk-drinking infant to become an omnivorous Raccoon.

Now, a recent visitor suggested that I am "manichean" in my views. Manichaeism is a dualistic philosophy that divides the cosmos into good and evil in the manner of the Zoroastrians, who saw all of reality as a struggle between Ahriman, the god of darkness, and Ahura Mazda, the god of light.

I just checked out the wikipedia entry to brush up on my Manichaeism, which was an actual ancient religion. I believe the differences between it and the One True Doctrine are evident -- although there is probably every reason to believe that certain Manichean principles found their way into Judaism and therefore Christianity.

Manichaean theology postulates "two natures that existed from the beginning: light and darkness. The realm of light lived in peace, while the realm of darkness was in constant conflict with itself. The universe is the temporary result of an attack from the realm of darkness on the realm of light," so that the cosmos is literally said to be the result of a mixture of light and darkness. This is obviously quite different from the conception of the cosmos as the peripheral radiation of the central Sovereign Good.

In fact, "A key belief in Manichaeism is that there is no omnipotent good power. This claim addresses a theoretical part of the problem of evil by denying the infinite perfection of God and postulating the two equal and opposite powers mentioned previously. The human person is seen as a battleground for these powers: the good part is the soul (which is composed of light) and the bad part is the body (composed of dark earth). The soul defines the person and is incorruptible, but it is under the domination of a foreign power, which addressed the practical part of The Problem of Evil. Humans are said to be able to be saved from this power (matter) if they come to know who they are and identify themselves with their soul."

Here is a perfect example of what we were discussing yesterday, that is, the garbled interpretation of the Divine Message as a result of human impurity. For the truth is that existence is a battle between light and darkness, but with extremely important modifications. But at the moment, I am running short of time, so I suppose I'll have to continue this line of thought tomorrow, assuming anyone -- including me -- is interested. For now, just remember, Phase I: milk. Phase II: solid food. Phase III: meat.

Or, in the immortal words of Pink Floyd, How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?