Saturday, December 22, 2007

Taking the Cosmic Bus Out for a Joyread

Say man, back again Bo Diddley. DL is still on the DL with the ManFlu. Yeah, Bobby's 'neath the bed sheets maxin' out the cold meds. I think he's planning to lay low and not post this weekend to preserve his delicate coonstitution -- who knows, maybe even just "play out" the Christmas season. I don't know. Looks to me like he's enjoying the pseudoephedrine a little too much. I don't think you're supposed to crush it and mix it with your beer.

This time he didn't leave me or anybody else in charge, so I'm gonna just slip on in the back door while your other man's away, so don't you tell nobody and let's keep our bidness to ourselves, okay? Colonel Beaglehole tells me that many musicians of his acquaintance -- purveyors of R & B music in the American negro tradition -- insist that love is that much better when you're stealin' it.

I guess I won't comment on that, but why don't we blogjack the Cosmos together and see if we can't pillage the celestial village and loot a little light? You know, let's commandeer the big blue bus, head down thunder road, and find out if heaven really is waiting on down the tracks, no? Ain't no big thing. We'll put it back when we're done. Petey's behind the karmic wheel, Dupree's ridin' shitgrin, and I got the transdimensional woohoo map in my trembling hands, so we're in for a guffah-ha! experience. Driver, where you takin' us? Destination O!

Hell, let's throw away the map, bust open the dawn, and plunge this thing into uberjive!

You know what I'm like without Bob's bloated ego in the way? I'm like a bright and gory sun god cast upon an alien shore, that's what, like some tropic of cancer survivor. Yes, immortal am I, a visitor from that dark backward abysm of time before time. I am that which has never been soiled by tongue or pen or keyboard, the fire and the sacrifice, first born among the dead, within you and without you; that being, the size of an academia nut but larger than the cosmos that gave him the gift of tenure, dwelling in the lotus of the heart, unborn body of the bodiless one, dark rays shining from a midnight sun, your phase before you were bearthed an begaialed, empty tomb of a deathlaz child!

Indeed, I am all these things with Bob out of the way!

An invocation for our journey:

O creator, O sustainer, O destroyer, only seer of the whole cataphatologue, comptroller of our moral bank account -- O illuminating Sun, fountain of life for all creatures and creators, let my handful of readers merge with some helpful heartwholed tips!

I'm here to tell you that you come into this world with all sorts of implicit knowledge of its deep spiritual structure. Everything you need to know, really, except that you've forgotten it. So the purpose of a spiritual practice is to help you remember it, okay? It's not new stuff. Rather, it's a refresher course designed to engage... let's call them your "hyperdimensional preconceptions," which are like empty archetypal categories that you must fill in with experience.

No, this is not deja voodoo, then again, I suppose it is. You know that feeling when the transdimensional key meshes perfectly with the nonlocal tumblers, don't you? You gotta pay attention to stuff like that, brothers and sisters. That's as close as most of you are gonna get to a burning bush. And trust me, you didn't stumble upon that key or the Order of Raccoons by accident. Rather, both down here and up there (way up yonder, 'bove yo' haid) like attracts like, which is only one of the basic laws of the cosmos. So be very careful who you are, since you're usually going to get what and meet whom you deserve, if not today, then over the long hell.

You see, as I believe Bob mentioned in One Cosmos, you're always depositing little seeds in the ground of eternity, day by day and moment by moment. All these seeds are therefore maturing at different times. So it's not as if you can be an a-hole your whole life, accept someone -- anyone -- as your "personal savior," and then automatically uproot all those seeds you planted over the years. Sorry. Doesn't work like that. Yes, you will hopefully start planting good seed at that point, but it would be a gross cosmic injustice -- not to mention an arbitrary violation of the moral law -- to give you a free pass on all that bad stuff you brought into the world and upon yourself and others.

Now, don't get me wrong. As you plant those new seeds, they will help you bear what you have coming to you with grace and equanimity -- they will give you the strength to bear your cross, but you still have to bear it if you want to grow, and equally importantly, understand what's happening to you while you do. Spiritual maturity means re-penting or turning around and accepting responsibility, not obliterating it. These folks who think they have a free moral pass are just sanctimonious cosmic cheaters, that's all.

Buddy, when you begin a serious spiritual practice, that's when your problems begin, not end. But there are naturally compensations. First of all, your suffering is transposed to a higher key and conferred a cosmic meaning and significance which makes it much easier to bear. Secondly, your cosmos expands, both in terms of spatial "depth" and temporal "width," in such a way that you'd never want to go back down to the cramped quarters of 3D. Thirdly, as you deal with the unfolding consequences of your samskara monsters and mind parasites, suffering is converted to power. Call it sophering if you like -- the painful forging of wisdom -- or perhaps the agni and the ecstasy (agni is the spiritual fire which consumes our impurities, written about by everyone from Augustine to Saint John of the Cross to Sri Aurobindo; it is a true constant in the spiritual testimony of the Maestros).

In a way, you are transitioning from the lower world of fate to the higher world of providence, even though, so long as you are in the material world, you cannot entirely eliminate the former. However, it can certainly be mitigated.

To put it another way, one of the central purposes of a spiritual practice is to help you "rise above" fate and align your being with providence, which is the "polar opposite" of fate. Someone who lives their life by mindlessly propagating all those bad seeds is essentially a slave to both randomness and fate -- and therefore meaninglessness. In other words, not only are they living "randomly" in the moment, but they are guaranteeing that bad things will keep happening to them in the future that "appear" random. Even though you are creating realities that cause you pain, you will often not see the connection because of the time lag and because of various levels of interaction and influence -- especially in a secularized world in which one is taught that the most fundamental laws that govern the cosmos are "superstitions" or "magical thinking."

Again, the alternative to this view pervades fundamentalism and new-ageism, both of which teach a false doctrine about the "intentionality" of thought -- as if your thoughts create your reality in a mechanical and instantaneous way. Of course this is true in degrees and in the long run, but it all has to do with the depth and persistence of the thoughts, plus whether or not they are aligned with the cause of causes, the Ultimate Real. Just staring into the mirror each day and telling yourself I'm a good person, God loves me, and I deserve some slack will generally get you nowhere. Rather, the thoughts must be rooted in being, and you cannot fool mother being or father begetting.

Again, this is where a mature spiritual practice engages you: on the level of being, not just knowing -- or (n) vs. (k). No memorized creed, no matter how sublime, will have any transformational impact unless it becomes part of one's psychic substance. It cannot be a mechanistic superimposition of (k) on O. Indeed, the purpose of, say, the Christian creed, is to memorialize this cosmic law, not to magically eradicate it. This is one of the major reasons so much contemporary religious thought is so superficial, and why it does not appeal to serious or deep people. Their souls tell them it is a lie, but they don't realize there is a truth out there, so they reject the whole innerprize. But there can be no counterfunny money if the real gag doesn't exist.

As fate is opposed to providence, randomness is opposed to purpose and meaning. This appears to be a paradox, since "fate" has the connotation of something that happens mechanically and automatically (as opposed to randomly), as believed by the Mohammedans. But the whole point is that by aligning oneself with providence, one may gradually lift oneself out of the mechanical stream of cause and effect, and avoid the fickle middle finger of randomness and fate. It's like tilting the cosmic pawnball machine, so you don't have to be one.

Another way of saying it is that the purpose of a spiritual practice is to cultivate truly free will, which, to the extent that it is free, is "above" the blind mechanical play of cosmic forces. But free will is only truly free when it is aligned with the purposes of the Creator, which creates an automatic descent of grace, as most of you know. Thus another paradox -- by giving up freedom one finds it, and by surrendering to providence one mitigates fate. In contrast, exclusive reliance upon the fallen will "feels" subjectively free, but it will just generate randomness and chaos in the long run (although many, if not most, people try in some sense to align themselves with the Good, True, and Beautiful, so to that extent, the saving grace will operate in their lives even without their knowledge).

Well, I guess it's time to sign off again. Sounds like Bob is about to stir, and I don't want him to know we were in here messing around. Let me just add that many of these thoughts were inspired by Bolton's Keys of Gnosis, which I hope I have playgiarized and rewordgitated with my own psychic substance as it trickled its way down here. Although I am ultimately responsible for this post, any errors are still Bob's fault. I'm outta here.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Down In the Basement With Bob's Unconscious

Bob's feeling a little under the weather today. Either that, or the weather is pressing down on him. One of those nasty baby colds, which always turn into a life-threatening case of Man Flu. So to save him time and effort, this is his unconscious speaking to you today. Well, not really "you," since in the unconscious mind, you don't really exist as a distinct entity -- more of a shadowy presence. Which is fine, since Bob said he was going to carry on a private coonversation with himself anyway.

Regarding Keys of Gnosis, in my opinion it takes Bolton several chapters to warm up to his subject, at least to the point that the book really started speaking to me.

For example, I see that Bob has relatively few highlights in the first 40-50 pages, while the last 100 are pretty much solid highlighting. When Bob highlights a passage, it usually means that something has caught my attention in a non-linear way that will need to be "unpacked" and explicated later. This is because "down" here (I hate that; it implies some kind of inferiority, a legacy of the positivistic 19th century over-emphasis on reason. I got your reason right here, buddy. I am so in control of your puny reason. I mean, I can make a guy like Hitchens worship spirits instead of Spirit, and then imagine he's rational! Ha!)

I do get sidetracked, however, which, after all, is part of the job description. I mean, trust me, you wouldn't want to live as if your mind were simply a predictable machine that runs in the same stupid groove for the rest of your life, like one of those substitious atheists or something. Obviously a lot of folks are like that, which is what makes them so freaking boring. Then you've got the other kind, who live only in the unconscious and call it some kind of "enlightenment" or "free-spiritedness."

Please. Much as I hate to admit it, I need Bob's conscious mind, just as it needs me. We don't always see I to I, but it's gotten better over the years. Hey, I've had my fun. In fact, I'm pretty sure I was pulling all the strings until he was in his late 20s! Ha! I should tell you about the day Miller Light came out in 1979, and he thought it meant he could drink 20 of them without getting too intoxicated.... Wait, maybe I have told that story.... Hard to remember sometimes, since, as you know, there's no time in the unconscious.... It's like it was yesterday....

Bob just got a surprise email yesterday from a guy he knew back then, Gary. C'mon Gary, if you're out there, testify to my awesome power over Bob! Are you as surprised as I am that he's still alive?

It's hard for me to stay on task, since I operate holographically, not linearly. In your world, A causes B, which causes C, yada yada, blah blah blah, in a sort of straight line. But in my world, A is more like a point at the center, which then radiates outward, causing A, B, C, D, etc., all extending out like rays from the sun. This is why some people think I'm "mercurial," or something like that. No, it's just that I contain multitudes, like that gay poet. Do I contradict myself? Only from your blinkered standpoint, Logic Slave!

Now, in the early chapters, Bolton spends a fair amount of time proving the existence of the soul with logic, which, as you might expect, is a little borr-rring to me, since I don't require "logic" to prove what is self-evident to me. Hey, I'm not anti-logic, anti-science, or anti-nerd. I'm not knockin' it or putting it down. I was just saying it as a fact and it's true more for the unconscious than for you maybe. I'm not saying that I'm better or greater, or comparing myself with Tony Robbins as a person or God as a thing or whatever he thinks he is. I just said what I said and it was wrong. Or right. Or it was taken wrong. And now it's all this.

So I don't know if I'm the right entity to do justice to Bolton's argument, but I'll try. He points out the genuine paradox that human beings are obviously a unity, and yet, they can only be comprehended dualistically, i.e., "body and soul." If you try to reduce the one to the other, you just end in absurdity or stupidity (my word). Furthermore, this unity cannot be understood, much less observed, in any exterior, scientific way. Rather, it can only be experienced on a first hand basis, or known "by acquaintance." No one else can have direct knowledge of your soul but you, right doofus?

Why the name calling? I don't know. Somehow that just slipped out. I'm innocent! That's just how the unconscious works. You might say that we all have Tourette's syndrome, but that some of us pretend we don't, i.e., we repress it. That's what cursing is all about, don't you know. Curse words are like magical linguistic amulets that partake of a kind of numinous potency because they have their roots down here.

This is why I can assure you that the so-called "reality" based community is so out of touch with same. I'm sure you've seen those empirical studies -- as if we need them! -- documenting how much more cursing and degraded speech goes on in the left wing blogosphere than the right. It's because they're so unconscious. They are motivated by overwhelming feelings that they are unable to articulate logically, which is what causes all the left-wing Tourette's. Did you see that freak Larry O'Donnell wig out over Romney's Mormonism on TV the other day? That was one of my associates pulling the strings. Watch his countenance darken as he becomes demon possessed. We love that stuff down here! Score one for "the beast," as my friend calls himself. It's like that Who song, only

Can't explain
I think it's hate
Gotta curse at you
'Cause my state is blue

That could pretty much be the Democrats' campaign theme, couldn't it?

I have to tell you, this is really hard. I mean, staying on track. Frankly, I think it's why Bob did so poorly in school, at least until grad school. Oh, I had his mind zigging and zagging all over the place. I guess I feel a little guilty about that. Wait, no I don't. I feel the opposite, even a little proud. Look, the Conspiracy was trying to mold his mind to fit their narrow agenda, and I wasn't having any of it. It wasn't that he was stupid, or that he lacked the native capacity. It's just that I flat out refused to cooperate, and I'm glad I did.

Call it self-preservation if you like, because it was either them or me. If the Conspiracy had been successful in stealing Bob's mind, it would have meant that I would have zero influence, except maybe in terms of causing symptoms, which I can do any time I want. Oh yes, I can cause all sorts of mischief when ego and soul are not in alignment -- affairs, divorce, drinking, drugs, illness, addictions of all kinds, you name it. Call it infantile if you like, but I don't look at it that way. Psychic unity, that's what I'm all about, brother. I might have to go Muslim on your ass to achieve it every now and then, but there's really no other way. Plus, the stakes are too high. We're talking about your soul, dude!

In fact, Bolton does a good job of explaining how the soul cannot be "in" the world. Rather -- and he's right about this -- the world is obviously in the soul (as are many other intelligible planes of reality). Likewise, your ego should be "contained" by your soul, since the ego is just its instrument. You can try to turn around that relationship and make the soul subordinate to the ego. I mean, many, if not most, people do. But that's like putting Dennis Rodman in charge of the NBA, or Ron Paul in charge of anything.

When you throw the soul overboard, ipso facto (I think I know what that means), you're left with nothing but the material ego, which in turn is considered nothing more than a biochimerical side effect of purely material processes. Now, in a subtle way, this is where the spiritual disease of leftism gets a foothold. Because if you don't have a soul, you don't have an essence. Therefore, it doesn't matter who you think you are, since you're ultimately just a product of the environment and Hillary can do whatever she wants with you and your money and testicles, knave! This is why the environment has so much power over the left. Obviously, it is the whole basis of their ubiquitous victimology, as in It's not my fault! Wahhhh! The environment made me do it! So the left will ultimately manipulate the environment in order to perfect mankind and cure it of the Disease That Has No Name, but kill the patient in the process, AKA Man as Such.

What? Yes, that's right. I forgot. It does have a name, "the Fall." I guess that's an okay name for the problem, but the word is a bit "saturated," don't you think? Probably just gives people the Jesus-willies when you use it. There are better ways to understand that phenomenon, which perhaps we'll get to later.

So the soul is the container both of the world and of our world-representation. It is why we recognize and understand the world so deeply. We are able to form representations of the world, whereas other animals simply mirror their environments. To the extent that they have a soul, it is generally more of a collective one.

See, as Bolton writes, "the objective world is known to have a form which results as much from its adaptation to our own powers of cognition, as from its objective nature." I know that's probably difficult for some of you to wrap your minds around, but it is critical that you don't do that, because your soul needs to wrap around your mind. The world really is a form of the soul's sensibility, which is why it corresponds so nicely with it. The world is an emanation from above; the reverse could never be true, i.e., the soul somehow being an emanation of matter. I mean, c'mon.

Is that enough? I'm getting bored. This is Bob's unconscious, signing off.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dear Diary: Today I Met the Most Wonderful Book!

Time to move on to the next round, which is Robert Bolton's outstanding Keys of Gnosis, which I just finished yesterday. Took me three weeks to finish, which is unusual for a book that's only 147 pages long. But it's so rich and so dense, that it takes maximum concentration just to read a single chapter. He wastes no words and writes with a great deal of precision, so one must attend to each word, each sentence, and each paragraph.

You might recall that I had previously discussed his Order of the Ages: World History in the Light of a Universal Cosmogony, which I could see with my cOOnvision was clearly the work of a metaphysical genius, even if my essentially bobtimistic nature would not allow me to fully accept the idea that we are stuck in the Kali Yuga without a paddle -- groping around in the darkness before the dang apocalypse. While it's possible that a catastrophic cosmic shift is going to occur in, say, December 2012 or thereabouts, I still think that it could represent the opportunity of a lifetome for the true Children of Toots.

A book is all the more challenging when it is on the plane of pure metaphysics, because the reader must in part supply his own materials in order to fly it and comprehend and "embody" what he is reading. He must already at least partly abide in the archetypal reality of the forms that govern existence, even if he sees them only dimly or partially. Otherwise, it's like taking a blind person on a bird watching expedition. Also, Bolton's particular writing style is slightly stiff; or if not stiff, at least lacking in rhythm, in the sense that the form of his writing doesn't really give you any clues as to what is particularly important to attend to. In other words, it's not exactly like the human voice, which has a natural prosody which one can "lock into" so as to understand the harmelody beneath the wordlings. Nor are there any jokes. Or pictures.

By the way, this post is not for you folks. It's for me. So if parts don't make sense, too bad. As usual, there's just not that much interest in this kind of blog, so I'm going to stop trying to please a larger audience that doesn't exist anyway, and continue my own private explorations, at least for the time being. So if you don't mind, I'm just going to pretend you're not here for awhile, and alienate my audience further. Maybe I won't even spell-check anymore, or stop trying to write so purty. This is one of those rare books I'd really like to assimilate and digest, and that involves first of all going back and rereading it from the beginning (now that I have a sense of the whole) and slowly trying to weave it together with my own ideas -- even my own precious anamnoetic fluids. It's one of the few books I've read that I think could really help to flesh out and extend Chapter IV of my own book, being that it's so universal and abstract (while at the same time being very concrete, so long as you bring your own metaphysical cement mixer). Naturally, it will be going straight into the permanent sidebar list of foundational raccoomendations.

By the way, Bolton is a Christian -- Catholic, I believe -- even though he writes from a universalist perspective that almost transcends sectarianism. Or, at the very least, this is one of the finest examples I've ever read of balancing the universal and the particular -- of discussing universal principles within the context of a particular tradition, in such a way that any sufficiently developed intellect could profit from the book, irrespective of one's religion. In fact -- in contrast to Schuon -- Bolton provides a fascinating explanation as to why grace is not only available but necessarily operative in the world and in individuals, even if they are not nominally religious. It explains why it is indeed possible to be an offroad spiritual aspirant and extreme seeker, even if this perilous vocation is clearly not for everyone.

We'll get to that later, but a moment's reflection will inform you that the cosmos could not be structured in any other way. An orthodox revealed religion is like a lens which focuses the grace, but the grace is still independent of the institution, in the same way that light is independent of the magnifying glass. Besides, once grace enters the world, it circulates around in all kinds of unpredictable ways, affecting even people who don't want it and never asked for it -- even leftists who still respect Judeo-Christian values in spite of their nous, which is cut off. It is truly the wind that blows where it wishes and which you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.

I know it worked that way in my life. It's not as if the grace is only available once you "convert," otherwise no one would ever be subject to it to begin with! Rather, grace is what leads you to grace -- just as it leads you to truth, beauty and decency. Anyone who learns to cooperate with the grace will be given real powers, powers they didn't possess before (or, to be perfectly accurate, which did not possess them). Needless to say, this power will generally have nothing to do with the usual measures of material success and power. In fact, looking at it in that manner is one of the quickest ways to go "against the grain" of grace and lose its power. It is why someone like Deepak Chopra is so vacuous and sterile, even if he might say something that is technically true.

Many Raccoons have testified to me in private -- and some in public -- about inexplicable new powers they have received since discovering the blog and the scattered tribe of Coon brethren -- powers of expression, poetic powers, a vision of wholeness (wide angle pneumography), activated cOOnvision, unbidden freevangelical pundamentalism, a new understanding of the bottomless depth of their own faith, etc. -- all capacities that they didn't know they had before. Needless to say, it has nothing to do with me, but with coming into alignment with grace (which is symbolized by the downward arrow on p. 222 of One Cosmos). In my neo-traditional cosmic yoga, this grace is everything, so I am therefore nothing except in the degree to which I am aligned with it. And then I'm even less.

And this is one of the reasons, as we were saying a couple of days ago, that such a person "is free from some of the practical implications of morality only by identifying with the intelligible source from whence morality arises" (Bolton). He is free not just to do anything, but to do good, which is the only real freedom -- just as freedom to know truth is the only real intellectual freedom. It is a kind of slavery that frees, which is a fine example of how Jew-know-who conveyed universal principles in the form of light yokes and rustic paradoxables, so that their truth could be freely "discovered" rather than "imposed" from on high. Among other things, this is one way the secret protects itself. Which it does, as our trolls testify to. God never forces free will, nor does he interfere with it.

Now, back to my private coonversation with myself. Bolton writes that "Once it is realized that the everyday world depends on an unseen world with a reality of its own, values can be understood as the points at which this unseen world enters our awareness of the visible one, rather as the mountain tops of a submerged continent appear to us as islands." Better yet, turn the image upside down, as with the Upanishadic Tree with its roots aloft, its branches down below. Now we have the image of conical areas piercing the world of maya from above -- or, as I expressed it in the book, those little springs of grace that dot the landscape. Indeed, were it not for those springs, the world would truly be a barren, good-for-nothing wasteland, a literal prison, gulag, or cooncentration camp. This is certainly where truth, love, beauty, and all the archetypes come into contact with, "penetrate" and hijack this plane. It is absurd to think that they randomly lojack us "from below." Let the dead bury themsophs.

This is also the area where we leave behind the worldly A-influences and come into contact with the transnatural B-influences. We must follow the B-influences back upstream to their source. This is obviously the meaning of the sacred river, whether it is the Ganges or in Revelation: And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. This source is prior to thought, the latter of which is in time: it is up there by the pure headwaters of the eternal, by the fountain of innocence, next to the vantastic "garden misty wet with rain." Oh yes, don't you remama? When she satya down in a crystal daze, toddling loose & lazy beneath a diamond sky with both hands waving free? No? I do. ¡Straight into the blisstic mystic, bright blazing fire and ecstatic cinder, Shiva, me tinders, count the stars in your eyes!

We cannot understand what we really are unless we understand what we are capable of becoming (Bolton). Of course! An entity is not defined only by what it is, but by its potential -- by its most mature and developed form. The saint, the adept, the true artist of word, image or sound, each is respectively the highest embodiment of the Good, True, and Beautiful. There are saints of knowledge, just as there are artists of truth and adepts of beauty. In fact, to the extent that each fails to partake of the other, something will be missing. I take back what I said about not trying to write purty, since Truth is the purttiest thing out there, 'ceptin for

The vast pan-o-rama of human evil is ultimately reducible to "the problem of increasing numbers of persons who lack power over their lives spiritually as much as materially, the two problems being closely related." Of course. There is hardly a material problem without a spiritual solution, but the reverse is almost never true. Even if manmade global warming were a true threat, we could end it immediately if clowns such as Al Gore and Bono began living their lives as I do, which is to say, simply -- i.e., removing the clutter of those eight mansions and scaling down so as to inhabit just one or two spiritual mansions.

Regarding the intrinsic -- always intrinsic, mind you -- spiritual illness of leftism, it represents the "opposite movement" of the cosmic procession of spirit: There is something deeply unnatural about such helplessness because it does not come from our true nature, but rather from a blindness to that nature (Bolton). The trojan hearse of left wing victimology is literally un-wholesome, unnaturally natural (i.e., cut off from spirit), and an impediment to spiritual progress and maturity.

You cannot become what God intended for you to be if you assent to any kind of socialist regime. Rather, you will be what the regime intends you to be -- which is simply a cog in their life-denying machine. True independence and individuation are marks of the spiritually mature, so long as one's utter dependence on spirit is appreciated. Otherwise, the isolated individual is a monster, a mere caricature of uniqueness and wholeness. An original perhaps, but an original nothing -- creativity in service of death and vanity.

In the cosmic hierarchy, mysticism is above, material science down below. In between, linking these two worlds, is metaphysics, which has things in common with both, without being reducible to either. In fact, it is in competition with several other main strands of modern thought, including materialism (or scientism), new ageism, and fundamentalism. Each of these is a deeply false path, and they actually share more in common than they diverge from one another.

For example, the irrationalism of fundamentalism converges with the irrational ultra-rationalism of scientism, and all three movements shun the intellect. While some metaphysical thought may be found in the new age movement, it is nearly always confused, partial, contradictory, idiosyncratic, and certainly cut off from any kind of institutional grace, plus it is "out of contact with the historical roots of civilization" (Bolton). It merges nicely with the modern material ego, which is why it is also almost always left wing. The new age and integral movements are riddled with mushheaded moonbats. In any event, both it and fundamentalism end up drifting "into becoming a part of the cosmic process [they] should serve to overcome."

See there? We're only up to page six of Keys of Gnosis, so at this rate I won't be surprised if I lose half my readers in the next few weeks. Which is fine by me. I think I prefer this kind of uninhibited interior dialogue anyway. What, you think I'm just some godfella put here to amuse you?

What do you mean funny, funny how?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On Remembering the Present and Imagining the Past (11.30.10)

A particular passage from Sanctifying the World struck me. Dawson once wrote in a letter that "it seems to me that there is no more sense in asking, 'What is the use of history' than asking what is the use of memory. An individual who has lost his memory is a lost individual, and a society that has no history and no historical consciousness is a barbarous society. It is as simple as that."

If this is true -- which I believe it is -- it leads to the questions, what is human memory and what is it good for? Brain neurologists can tell you that, contrary to common sense, memory is not some sort of exact imprint of the past on the brain. Rather, it is always very much a "work in progress," with things being added, deleted, and synthesized into a more or less comprehensive picture. Looked at this way, there really is no such thing as an objective past, only our ongoing construction of it in the present. It is very much "the presence of the past," which is to say, an extension of the present into the past, rather than vice versa -- which is why history must be rewritten (or at least reevaluated) by each generation, since the past keeps changing in light of the future.

Or, at the very least, these two modes must be considered dialectically: the past reaches into the present, just as the present reaches into the past. What we call "history," or the recollected past, is more like a dynamic whirlpool created by these two streams. This is one of the main reasons two historians can regard the identical reality -- even utilizing the same materials -- so very differently. One historian looks at the American revolution as a rare and glorious irruption of Light into the darkness of politics, while another sees it as a venal con-job by wealthy and self-interested racists.

Thus, the past is clearly conditioned by the psychic present of the person interpreting it. When I read leftist "revisionist" history, my first question is usually "why is this person such an asshole?" They would no doubt feel the same way about me, except that they would say something like "why is he such a bad scholar?" But the much more important question is who is actually the asshole here? In other words, they will convert a feeling they are having into a statement about my qualifications, whereas I just go with the feeling, so long as it abides in higher cOOnvision.

You will notice that intellectually inferior leftist elites do this constantly, that is, disguise simple contempt as intellectual superiority, whether they are talking about global warming, economics, religion, "right wing talk radio," President Bush, etc. And this is why they are so incredibly blind to their prejudices: because they are first felt and only then experienced as self-evident "thoughts" -- thoughts that the conservative is "stupid" for not seeing with equal clarity. And because these liberal "thoughts" are not self-evident to the conservative, the liberal imagines that it must emanate from malevolence, which is to say, evil (which the liberal doesn't even believe in). For example, liberals always characterize Rush Limbaugh as hateful, when I can't even remember ever hearing him angry. Rather, the predominant mood of the program is nearly always one of joy -- as in joyously kicking liberal's asses. Just because they hate having this done to them, they imagine that Rush is hateful.

This is why conservatives think liberals are generally either wrong or stupid, while liberals feel that conservatives are evil. And since they are evil, there is no reason to develop sensible arguments to deal with them. Invective and moral condemnation are sufficient, as we see everywhere on the left, from the mountains of academia, to the highlands of the New York Times, to the lowlands of Hollywood, and into the sewer of dailykos.

Psychoanalytic therapy works exactly along these lines -- at least the form of therapy in which I was trained. That is, whatever a patient says about the past, it is presumed that he is actually (in some sense) making a statement about the present -- about his own present psychic organization, about his relationships and conflicts, and especially about the here-and-now reality of the therapeutic situation. In fact, this is what Bion meant by O. That is, as he sat there with a patient, he considered the reality of the situation to be an evolving field -- an unknowable, noumenal reality that shifts and changes on a moment-to-moment basis. One must notice the subtle changes in the nature of this field, and not necessarily get distracted by the content, since the content is more like the penumbra around O. In order to intuit O -- or for O to evolve into (k) -- we must, as Bion wrote, "suspend memory, desire, and understanding."

When you are in the presence of anyone, there is an unstated, preverbal reality between or "around" the two of you. This reality -- which is an aspect of O -- is at least as "real" as the conscious speech that passes between the two parties. You could say that it is more like the background, context, field, or "container" for what transpires within it. And it isn't an "empty" space, but -- as in modern physics -- a space that conditions the content "within" it.

We all notice this field, even if only unconsciously. Call it the "vibes" of a situation if you like. As a therapist, one is trained to pay close attention to the vibes given off by a patient (the "counter-transference"), since they speak volumes about the psychic reality in which the patient lives and has his being. Furthermore, one must be especially careful not to confuse the patient's vibes with one's own, which is easy to do if one lacks insight and awareness.

We all experience this from time to time. For example, we might be in a bad mood, so we experience our spouse as a different person than we did yesterday -- as a persecutory presence. Or perhaps you have listened to a particular piece of music, thinking you didn't like it, when it was just the mood you were in. For me, it is a common experience that certain types of music are inaccessible if I am not in the right frame of mind. What can sound like the music of the spheres one day can sound like music of the squares the next.

While neurologists think of consciousness as "the remembered present," there is another vital aspect of it which might be called the "unremembered memory of the present." One of the reasons it is unremembered is that if we had to equally contend with the background of the present, we'd be too distracted to deal with its foreground. This is why we often have to pay a specialist to systematically examine the background container of our present -- things we are unconsciously recalling that we don't want to, and that simply get in the way and distort it.

You might say that by far the larger part of memory is not that which we recall, but that which recalls us. For example, every night we are "forgotten" by O as we dissolve into the unconscious dreamworks, only to be re-collected and reconstituted by it in the morning. In this regard, it is very much analogous to being beamed down by the transporter each morning:

"A transporter is a fictional teleportation machine used in the Star Trek universe. Transporters convert a person or object into an energy pattern (a process called dematerialization), then 'beam' it to a target, where it is reconverted into matter (rematerialization). The term transporter accident is a catch-all term for when a person or object does not rematerialize correctly."

Indeed, perhaps you may have noticed that O is not entirely consistent in this regard -- that you might have had a little transporter accident overnight. It is as if the transporter left a few molecules out when it reassembled you in the morning. Or to use a computer analogy, you're a little "buggy." One morning you wake up feeling this way, while the next morning you wake up feeling that way. Perhaps something is "missing," not some easily identifiable content, but again, more like the background context that would allow it all to make sense. Often the only "cure" is to go back to sleep and reboot.

Now, what does this all have to do with history? I don't know yet. I guess we're about to find out. As Flaubert once said, "writing history is like drinking an ocean and pissing a cupful." Let's hope, like the left, we're not just doing the opposite.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Cluelesscide of the West (11.29.10)

Just as behind all religion and all spiritual philosophy there is a metaphysical assent -- the affirmation of Being -- so behind materialism... there is a metaphysical negation -- the denial of Being -- which is the ultimate and quasi-mystical ground of the materialistic position. --Christopher Dawson

What if the purpose of education were not simply to receive knowledge (k) but to cultivate the weird light (n) that lights up every man?

As it so happens, this is the purpose of education, so those who run our educational establishment are really just ideologues, propagandists, technicians, mechanics, and clowns. It's no wonder that young adolts are generally more stupid coming out of a liberal university education than they were going into it. Because if you're not exposed to the Light, you will simply assimilate the darkness and try to use it to illuminate your life. I am convinced that this is one of the primary reasons the left is so confused, and why they cannot argue or even think logically. They value education but not the Light from which it derives its value.

Our dehumanized and anti-intellectual university system is obvious to us now, but Dawson noticed the problem some fifty years ago -- that it was becoming quite anti-liberal, anti-scholarly, and sub-literary because sub-religious. This mania "arose among the half-educated and gradually spread both upwards and downwards."

Among other things, the upside-down education of the left emphasizes rights over duties, self-esteem over self-transcendence, and the antihero over the hero, since the former is the authentic nihilist who sees through the sham of hierarchy, eternal values, and first principles. The left worships these monsters because only they have the courage -- i.e., violence -- of the leftist's absence of convictions (see here for example).

A hero, on the other hand, is only heroic to the extent that he risks life and limb for something transcending himself. Since transcendence doesn't exist for the secularist, the hero must therefore be an idiot or a manipulative liar -- as the left regards, say, General "Betray Us." This is why masturbatory leftism and fruitless cynicism go hand in gland.

The religious superman differs from the Nietzschean superman, in that the former "is free from some of the practical implications of morality only by identifying with the intelligible source from whence morality arises" (Bolton). He is free not just to do anything, but to do good, which is the only real freedom -- just as freedom to know truth is the only real intellectual freedom.

Another way of saying it is that the hero is free to defend reality, while the antihero is free to be hostile to spiritual reality and to therefore live in fantasy. Leftist intellectuals are certainly free within the constraints of their two horizontal dimensions (who, because of the tamasic inertia caused by the absence of grace, also inevitably fall into a third dimension, the lower vertical), but in the absence of the transcendent, their freedom doesn't even have the value of animal freedom, since it will always be tainted by a guilt-stained recollection of the Real, or what Joyce called the agenbite of inwit.

Yes, the left has its heroes, but when you scratch the surface, you will see that they are always worshipped for their destructive, not creative, capacities. For example, one of the reasons I was against the MLK holiday is that I knew the left would simply turn it into an anti-holiday celebrating anger, bitterness, envy and division -- the opposite of what a holy-day is supposed to accomplish, which is the facilitation or recollection of wholeness or transcendent unity. The problem isn't with King, at least to the extent that he was simply trying to make America comport with its first principles, which are so obviously rooted in the transcendent, i.e., "all men are created equal." The problem is how the left cynically uses King to advance principles that have nothing to do with American ideals. Ultimately, the left is a revolt against the vertical order, or "defiance of the cause of their own existence," i.e., intellectual cluelesscide.

Why do leftists instinctively and unreflectively embrace the environmental hysteria of the climate change fanatics? It is because in the absence of mature spirituality, they have no metaphysical bullshit detector, so they essentially convert a spiritual crisis into a weather crisis -- the externalization of inward evils. In the hierarchy of being Man is above the environment, not an entity that is reducible to it. Nature is not actually our mother, unless balanced with the transcendent male principle, i.e., immanence + transcendence.

But "liberated" from transcendence -- i.e., the Father -- then we are swallowed up by irrational realm of the Great Mother. Free of the One, we simply fall back into the orbit of the (m)Other. If this were ever completely successful, the result would be, in the words of Bolton, "an opting out of [Man's] place in the cosmic hierarchy, while retaining a dominance over nature based on human powers and techniques alone. Nothing further from truth and stability could be conceived, nor anything better calculated to result in a stampede into the jaws of Fate in its most inhuman form." In other words, leftism in itself is an environmental crisis of the first magnitude.

This reminds me very much of depressed patients who cannot bear their depression and therefore experience it only in the body, i.e., the "physical environment." I evaluated just such a woman a couple of weeks ago. She was clearly profoundly depressed, but was consciously unaware of being so. However, she had pain in nearly every part of her body, in the absence of any objective findings to account for it. Each case is different, but in her case her conscious mind very much existed on a two-dimensional plane that excluded emotional (and therefore intellectual) depth, so that the only way she could "think" about her depression was through the body. In other words, one can no more deny the unconscious than one can pretend one doesn't have a body. To the extent that it is denied, it will simply return in some other misrecognized form.

It is no different with Spirit -- both good and bad. To the extent that it is denied, it will simply return in some concealed form. And this is why, to paraphrase Richard Weaver, all attacks on religion inevitably result in attacks on the mind, for how could it not be so? To cite just one obvious example, if we are nothing more than materialistic Darwinian machines, then there could be no way for us to know that truth. All truth, by definition, is supernatural and could never have come from nature. Nor, for that matter, could goodness or beauty come from nature -- unless nature is not what you think it is.

This is why we can say that all good comes from God, even if indirectly -- which is almost always necessarily the case, given the hierarchical complexity of manifest existence (just as your brain must work through so many layers and systems to accomplish even the simplest goal; it doesn't accomplish its ends by magic -- except that it actually does). Real power is always spiritual power, the ability to make an idea manifest in the material world. In this sense, we are all mirrorcles of the absolute, in that we have the capacity to make the word flesh.

What, you think dirt just becomes flesh and flesh becomes Word on its own? Then you're an idiot and you desperately need to know it, which is the only reason I'm saying it. It doesn't give me any pleasure. Dupree, that's a different story. Nevertheless, extremism in the defense of reality is no vice, just as tolerance in the pursuit of terrorists and other asshats is no virtue.

Monday, December 17, 2007

On the Varieties of Martyrdom: Past and Present, Interior and Exterior (11.24.10)

One or two more posts about Christopher Dawson before moving on.

It is interesting that early Christianity spread by virtue of the violence done to its adherents, in direct opposition to Islam, which has only spread by virtue of violence perpetrated upon others. We have no real way of knowing how many actual Muslims there are in the world, for how many would remain Muslim if given the choice? How rapidly would Christianity spread in China and the Middle East if the authorities allowed anything like a free marketplace of religion?

Very odd as well that Muslims call their mass murderers "martyrs," but it is nevertheless consistent with their bloody history. According to Birzer, the actual Christian martyrs of the second and third centuries were "an inspiration to a decadent population, devoid of any higher understanding, but still seeking something higher than itself." He cites the example of St. Perpetua, who, "when a gladiator approached her in the arena... took the gladiator's trembling hand and guided it to her throat." Repeated countless times, these saints "became the dying witnesses to a purpose in this life and the life beyond. Their blood led to mass conversions among a lost Roman people." But who would convert to Islam as a result of watching teenage boys engage in mass murder after being manipulated by psychopathic and genocidal fanatics? Where is the appeal, except to eternal hatred?

Interesting as well that, once Christianity became the state religion and the era of persecution ended, a new kind of "interior martyrdom" began, as serious seekers fled for the desert in order to find God in the solitude of the heart. I've read a fair amount of the literature from this period, for example, in the Philokalia, but some of it is rather difficult to relate to, so uncompromising was the self-immolation involved. It was a kind of crucifixion of the ego that is difficult for us comprehend.

Then again, there are spiritual challenges in our day that people from even 100 years ago couldn't imagine. Most of us will never know what amounted to "constants" among pre-modern people, including famine, plague, war (up close and personal, not in a distant land), chronic pain, constant loss, and early death. Thus, for any thinking person, the utter futility of the world must have seemed quite obvious. It's the same with the Buddha's advice -- it's not nearly as difficult to detach from the world when the world has so little to recommend it.

So in an odd way, the present world undoubtedly requires its own kind of spiritual athleticism in order to transcend it, since the temptations are so much greater. In a way, the more fulfilling the world is, the more pain there is. How did people in the past endure the routine loss of a child? I would guess that infant mortality was so high, that the vast majority of parents had lost at least one child. Nowadays, this constitutes a tragic minority. Indeed, even a miscarriage is an occasion for grief, whereas I can't imagine premodern people giving it a second thought.

As I wrote in One Cosmos, this must have affected the way the premodern psyche grew and developed. We now know that the psyche is formed on the basis of attachment to early objects, and that any kind of disruption in the attachment process leaves emotional and cognitive scars for life. I have read that prior to modernity, parents didn't invest a lot of emotional energy in their children until there was a good chance they'd survive infancy, so I don't see how this could not have resulted in what we would call "schizoid" (i.e., detached), depressed, or paranoid personalities (i.e., bitter, distrusting, and angry people) on a widespread basis.

At 2 years, 8 months, my son is at a particularly cute age. In fact, he might be at his maximum level of cuteness. When interacting with him or even just watching him, I often think of how this is "heaven on earth." The modern world is so alluring, that we can forget all about transcendence. And yet, this attachment to the world probably just makes us feel less secure. A few weeks ago I read about a new particularly severe cold virus that has killed a few children; or you read about the alarming increase in little scratches resulting in a fatal infection from flesh-eating bacteria (which my sister-in-law actually died of). So in a perverse way, the more secure we are, the less secure, because we expect things to go perfectly.

I am sure this is what animates the angry and hysterical left, who obsess over "civil rights" when there is virtually no chance of any of us having our civil rights violated in modern America unless we are subject to an income tax audit. Likewise, they obsess over the environment, when it has literally never been better, or about the treatment of homosexuals and other minorities, when they have literally never had it so good. Without a doubt, 21st century America is the best place there has ever been to be black, female, or homosexual.

When you think about it, political campaigns operate mostly at the "margins" of life, trying to make what is already almost "perfect" (by historical standards) even better. For example, unemployment really can't get any lower without spurring inflation. Adjusted for inflation, gas is no more expensive than it was in the 1950s. Even the national debt is lower than the historical average, taken as a percentage of GNP. Water and air are the cleanest they've been since it has been possible to measure them, and healthcare is mainly expensive because there are so many drugs and procedures that didn't even exist a generation ago. If you want to save on healthcare, just limit yourself to the treatments that were available in 1975. But this is about as likely as wealthy liberals voluntarily giving more money to the government, instead of forcing others to do so.

To a "cultural conservative" -- no, not that kind -- it is obvious that the greatest contemporary threats are to the soul. The whole debate over this is rather clumsy, since it is generally framed in terms of radical secularists vs. "fundamentalists," neither of whom see the problem particularly clearly, the former by definition, the latter by virtue of a naive and anti-intellectual spiritual materialism.

Dawson felt that (in the words of Birzer), history involved a "battle for possession of the human soul," and that "to protect the order of the culture and the polity, one must first protect the order of the soul. Without the order of the soul, all will fail." What he wrote in the 1940s would apply with equal force today:

"England and the whole world are passing through a terrible crisis. We are fighting not merely against external enemies but against powerful forces that threaten the very existence of our culture. And it is therefore vital that all the positive intellectual and spiritual forces of Western culture should come together in defense of their common values and traditions against their common enemies." It is ironic that a Christopher Hitchens is one of the few leftists who has marshaled his obviously gifted intellect toward these ends, while simultaneously undercutting them in even more profound ways. He is literally trying to preserve that which he would wish to see destroyed.

But preservation and destruction are constants in history: "to the Christian the world is always ending, and every historical crisis is, as it were, a rehearsal for the real thing." "The defeat of totalitarianism... 'depends in the last resort, not on the force of arms but on the power of Spirit, the mysterious influence which alone can change human nature and renew the face of the earth.'"

In this regard, it is critical to bear in mind that evil ideologies are never creative, i.e., "not a creator but merely a creature" and therefore ultimately subject to the entropy and degeneration of the world: "The tyrannical ideologue can neither be creative nor imaginative," and is "merely a shadow of the true Enemy, himself just a creature, albeit a very powerful one within time." Islamism on the one hand and leftism on the other are "blind powers which are working in the dark, and which derive their strength from negative and destructive forces."

I don't worry at all about the things that seem to consume liberals, such as what the weather might be like in 100 years, whether we harshly interrogate terrorists, or whether open homosexuals should be allowed to serve in the military they so despise. What troubles me is whether we sill soon no longer have an environment capable of sustaining the human soul, and whether, because of various technological developments, we are able to live in such a way that we can imagine that there are no consequences for our spiritually self-destructive behavior.

In short, the spiritually "dangerous and treacherous" have "been made artificially safe," so that "the distinction between wisdom and folly would seem to be an irrelevance." As Bolton writes, "high forms of culture can usually continue for at least another generation after traditional moral restraints have given way, creating the impression that a society can have the best of both worlds." But this is only a "fool's paradise." The bill eventually comes due.

If there ever was a widespread conversion to truth as a vocation, most of the problems of society would solve themselves, since it would remove the basic evil of aimlessness. It was for this reason that Pascal said that the whole calamity of mankind was owing to the fact that a man cannot remain quietly in one room for any good purpose.... [O]ne must needs be a moral person while engaged in [the pursuit of truth], or it would quickly turn into something else. For this reason it has been described as the only really unselfish activity which is available to most people most of the time....

This is bound up with the idea of a special category of knowledge which does not serve any ulterior purposes, but is worth knowing for its own sake. Those who are most involved with such knowledge would therefore be in their own persons the realization of all the practical purposes which are pursued in the world around them.... This is why the the security of any society depends on the presence in it of minorities and individuals who are spiritually alien to it, who have a mission which goes far beyond the basic practicalities which rest one everyone
. --Robert Bolton, Keys of Gnosis

Suffice it to say that none of us would be who we are had it not been for the existence of such impractical men -- interior and exterior martyrs of various kinds -- in the past.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Cosmic Containment and the Logotomy of the West (11.23.10)

With modernity and especially postmodernity, Western civilization underwent a spiritual logotomy that divorced consciousness from the world. Up to that point, no one was really "religious" or "chose" religion in the way that we consciously must. Rather, it mostly chose them. It was simply the context in which humans lived, and one thing modern psychoanalysis has discovered over the past 40-50 years is the priority of the mind's container over and above its content. Or, at the very least, one must always regard container and contained dialectically, for you can never have one without the other.

True, truth is truth; nevertheless, it makes all the difference in the world what sort of receptacle or "matrix" contains that truth. If the container is false -- i.e., built upon the Lie -- then it will "color" all of its content in ways that may be imperceptible to the individual except in the form of "symptoms," i.e., emotional or cognitive pain or dysfunction.

To take a simple example, consider the truth of justice. Human beings are born with a pre-cognitive, archetypal understanding of justice -- a "preconception" or empty category that will be "filled out" by experience. But leftist thought is essentially a deformation of this pre-existing truth, as it enforces its idea of justice in fundamentally unjust ways -- i.e., racial quotas, income redistribution, attacks on private property, class warfare, etc. All forms of modern leftism -- which trace their genealogy from Marx -- are essentially dishonest appeals to eternal truths such as justice, compassion, equality, fraternity, etc.

This is why we can say that someone like John Edwards is not only wrong, he's not even wrong, since the container of his ideas is so fundamentally perverse. As is true of many trial lawyers, he can turn any truth into a lie, and vice versa. Yes, it's cynical, but it's much deeper than that, a kind of egomaniacal superiority to Truth itself. It is satanic, to be precise.

There was a time that "the Church," broadly speaking, was generally able to "contain" the human spirit. For some 1,000 years, the vast majority of people in the West lived, thought, felt, worked, and died within this meaning-generating container. Now, a container must not only be "capacious" enough to hold the human spirit -- which tends toward the infinite -- but it must also paradoxically provide a sort of "friction" against which we may think.

In other words, "thinking spiritually" in a truly creative way means that there must be an interaction between container and contained that produces new thoughts. Indeed, if religion could not do this, it would not only be entirely "static," but it would provide no satisfaction for the soul's intrinsic desire to grow with knowledge. The Bible really would be the end of theology instead of the beginning, and the importance of the great saints, doctors and mystics would be rendered meaningless. And history would have no point at all.

This specifically human form of knowing is what distinguishes us from the beasts, since it is not only analogous to play, it is play. It is well understood that certain young animals play -- i.e., puppies and kittens -- but that virtually all adult animals lose this capacity as they "grow into" their mature archetype, which is essentially fixed and final.

But man only fulfills his destiny by preserving this neoteny to the end of his days. Not only is man born "immature," but he must always remain so on pain of ending the growing process. Now obviously, there are mature and immature ways to preserve our immaturity. When Jesus says that we must be as children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, he surely doesn't mean that we must stamp our feet and throw a temper tantrum until God lets us in. Rather, he's talking about things like openness, spontaneity, creativity, timelessness, and trust (or faith).

Now, "openness," "spontaneity," "timelessness," etc., all apply to the container, not the content. In other words, "spontaneity" is not a content or specific idea that you can hold in your mind like an object and be done with it. A -- perhaps the -- major task of parenting is to raise your child in such a way that he will have a happy, healthy, and productive "container" for the rest of his life, irrespective of the specific content.

This was an idea that was probably first worked out by the developmental psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, who wrote about how, for example, one's lifelong capacity for "basic trust" is forged in the first 18 months of life, largely depending upon the quality of care one receives. No one talks much about Erikson anymore, as his ideas have been extended, elaborated, and fine-tuned by others, but his basic conception is correct. Note how each of his stages has primarily to do with the container, i.e., trust, autonomy, identity, generativity, etc.

A trusting person sees the world very differently than a non-trusting, which is to say, paranoid, person. Surely it is no coincidence that the Muslim Middle East has the lowest quality of parenting and the highest degree of paranoia, along with an almost total lack of creativity and autonomy. This is obviously worrisome, since democracy and the free market can only flourish in a high-trust environment. To put it another way, trust is huge enabler of market efficiency, removing all kinds of obstacles to "doing business" with one another. Almost any American can do business with any other American, whereas in tribal cultures, the circle of trust is greatly narrowed.

But I want to return to the topic of religion as the container of an explosive force, or content. Call it the "spiritual drive," or the "pneumaphilic instinct," but whatever it is, just like any other human capacity, it requires a container to guide and channel it -- just as, say, music requires a system of musical notation to structure and give it depth. Bach, for example, was born with a "musical drive," but what if he had been born at a time prior to the western system of musical notation, which allows one to "think" with such complexity within the chordal space of vertical musicality? The point is again that an adequate container is critical for one to achieve one's potential in any given area.

It is no different with religion. The other day, I was reading of how Dawson felt that different historical eras were literally different "worlds" which we could not really understand by projecting our own world onto them. This makes total sense to a psychoanalytically informed psychologist, again, because true empathy of a patient involves not just understanding their content, but their container. Furthermore, real change generally doesn't involve the patient obtaining this or that piece of missing information. Rather, it involves a slow alteration and repair of their container within the context of the therapeutic alliance. Truly, therapy is just something you do to distract the patient while his mind is healing itself, mainly as a result of an intimate relationship with another.

So anyway, my point is that modernity -- e.g., the scientific revolution and the birth of the individual self -- essentially "exploded" the religious container that had contained the mind and spirit up to that point, and there is no going back to that world. You cannot unwrong that bull or put that truthpaste back into the tube. Different world.

They tell me that modern physics displaced earth from the center of the universe, just as natural selection displaced man from the center of the biosphere, thus rendering the religion of Christianity hopelessly quaint, what with its cognitively reassuring firmament above, and a God who just happens to be in the form of a man.

Whatever. The point is not to argue over facts, which is to say, the content, but to understand the cosmic, and even metacosmic, nature of Christianity, so that it may serve as a container for the historical middle world we happen to inhobbit. I suppose that's the point of my book and blog, which is why I never argue with the other guy's content when his container is so messed up. One Cosmos "Under" God is another way of saying One Cosmos Contained by God. Come to think if it, it would make a nice Christmas present for someone who thinks he's outgrown Christmas past.

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