Sunday, January 13, 2008

Becoming Somebody on the Way to Being a Big Nobody

To post or not to post.... It's getting late, and I have a lot of work to do.... plus I want to watch the football games.... and I have a long day tomorrow.... and I get even fewer readers on Sunday anyway. I wonder how few readers I actually have, if you subtract the google searches, like "grandma's old underpants?" I know we've covered a lot of ground, but I don't remember dealing with that particular topic. Like anyone else, I have my thoughts on the subject, but I pretty much confine them to the study group.

Here are some google searches from just the last 100 visits: real-reality sex, carry on montesquieu, adultolescence, religions that don't believe in god, what is meant to polarization of dissolved oxygen probe blog, kaiser willys, Kant and the Phenomenon of Inserted Thoughts, im 28 days reg for my period trying to have a baby my period was supposed to be yesterday, crack cosmos 07, torrent spiritual reality, laughty america, women without cloth, and 7 levels of human. Perhaps I should use these for the blog description at the top.

There are two possible directions I could go in this morning.... three, if you count "nowhere." That's another thing -- I'm trying to find the time to make some headway with Charles Taylor's A Secular Age, which is almost 800 pages long and not an easy read. It's a very important book, and one that I will be spending a lot of time discussing in future posts, partly as a way of assimilating the material, but also to show how it relates to my book. But first I have to read it. Thus far I'm only up to page 96.

I could never be an actual scholar like Taylor, but I'm certainly glad they exist. However, I feel that my task is to assimilate these "lower" truths (and I certainly don't mean that in any pejorative sense) into a more unified vision of the whole. As I once mentioned five or six or more times, I wish my book could have been spiral-bound, as an objective correlative to its interior circularity.

But I also had the idea that it could serve as a cosmic holodex, whereby readers could just insert new material to flesh out certain areas that I had to compress due to the challenge of packing 13.7 billion years of cosmic evolution into 300 pages. The point is that, just like the cosmos itself, the book could expand from within, and the reader wouldn't have to just drive off my cliff notes.

Here, I'll show you what I mean. The portion of my book covered by Taylor's 776 pages is basically six pages long, from the bottom of page 174 all the way to the middle of page 180. As I wrote at the beginning of that passage, "There is a wide range of scholars, including Charles Taylor, Eli Sagan, Weston LaBarre, Lawrence Stone, Sri Aurobindo, Jean Gebser, and Norbert Elias, who have recognized that human nature is not a universal 'essence' that has remained unchanged throughout the course of history, and that it has only been quite recently -- mostly in the past three-hundred years (with notable exceptions, of course) -- that our notion of the modern self has become the norm."

That was a somewhat careless way to express it, since I actually do believe there is an archetpyal human essence, a point I flesh out in the next chapter. The coonologically correct way to have said it would be that "more humans than ever before now have the freedom and opportunity to realize their true nature, i.e., to individuate and become who they actually are." For most of human history this was an impossibility, just as it is in many cultures today. In fact, the point is clarified in the last sentence from that section on page 180:

"[T]he extent to which a culture is able to do this [i.e., allow self-actualization] is its only moral claim to power [I should have said something like 'measure of intrinsic value']; but since each person is unique, it is not possible for a culture to define the exact endpoint of development, as this would impede the free discovery of one's own essence -- both words must be emphasized, for one's essence must be freely (without compulsion) discovered, and freely discovered (not 'given' by some external model or teaching)."

There again, I'd clarify that to say that we must realize our particular archetype, but then assimilate it into the universal, a point which I believe becomes clearer in the subsequent chapter. That is what I mean by the next sentence, but then it must be surrendered to something higher. Therefore, it is wrong to imply that external models are to be discarded. To the contrary, most Christians would consider, say, Jesus, to be the universal "omega man" toward which our individual self is oriented.

But it must be an individual self, not just a caricature, an instrumental ego, or a collective self. At least in today's world. Circumstances were obviously different in the past, when people were much more anonymous, and partook of a sort of "group self." Indeed, this is one of Taylor's main points, which he supports with abundant documentation.

The implications for theology and metaphysics are of tremendous importance to our world, and need to be explicated. Unless we do so, it will be difficult for secularized people to comprehend how religion relates to their psychohistorically hard-won particular self, especially since religion has in the past been clearly at odds with individual development as a result of its faulty or limited understanding of Man's true role in the cosmic spiritual economy -- which is a full employment economy, by the way. Which is sort of the point, since everyone's got their own unique job to do and mission to accomplish within the context of the Whole.

Which brings us to a comment left yesterday, to the effect that Truth has been revealed in the person and divinity of Christ, and that it is only a matter of the person surrendering to it. Yes, perhaps, but much depends upon what is meant by "person," because, as Taylor shows, it had a very different meaning 500 years ago than it does today. His argument is way too subtle, rich, and detailed for me to get into at the moment. But I will. Right now I need to get to my unReal work.


walt said...

I was amused by the Google searches that lead to your blog, until I came to "torrent spiritual reality" and thought, well, that's perfectly reasonable! It's that "drinking from the firehose" thing you spoke about!

Speaking of which, it seems there's work to be done:
"... we must realize our particular archetype, but then assimilate it into the universal ... it must be surrendered to something higher." To me, that represents a complete thought, and in language I can understand.

More specifically:
"'s essence must be freely (without compulsion) discovered, and freely discovered (not 'given' by some external model or teaching)."

Freedom and discovery, carried on individually, for individuation, and ultimately surrendered to the Highest High. This is an example of the splash-back from the "torrent spiritual reality"!

Compare to the drivel in the headlines: one of our estimable Presidential candidates to a crowd in Las Vegas this week -
"We're going to put money in the hands of hardworking people who deserve it!"

Vapid "hope" for the vapidly hopeless!

Lisa said...

I'm not trying to start any theological arguments or supremecy of one religion over another, yet as a Jew, I always have a hard time with the concept of Jesus Christ. It's not that I don't respect the teachings and archetypal images he portrays. It's that I believe there is God in all of us at all times whether we acknowledge it or not. My vision of a messiah or messianic age is more related to that spark in each individual alighting and aligning to form a brighter cosmos and overall image of God through the many. I can't believe that it will be forced or coerced or one will have to surrender. It would be cool if everyone would take themselves as their own saviour and start to align both the mind and body. The spirit would have no choice but to go up into the spiral. I have a dream.....;)

Okay, fine, I'll put down the tequila and the bong...

Gagdad Bob said...

Sincere apologies. I could transpose my points into the key of Judaism, but at the risk of sounding out of tune to an already small remnant of the largest potential O-->(k)estra.

julie said...

Lisa, it seems to me that God still has important work for the Jews in this world (one only needs to look at the tremendous contributions they have made in making the world a better place, long after Christianity appeared on the scene). For faithful Jews to be summarily tossed aside for the crime of not following Christ would be a gross cosmic injustice, imho; I would want no part of a God capable of such cruelty. Rather, I think that anyone who aligns themselves with that which is Good, True and Beautiful cannot help but be aligned with the ideals that Christ represented.

julie said...

That last sentence seems incomplete. In any case, what I meant was that I don't think one must be a Christian to be aligned with God.

JC said...

Not everyone who robotically yammers, "Lord, Lord," shall enter the the kingdom of heaven, but those who are aligned with the will of God. Many will say to me in that day, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied, cast out demons, and raised a whole lot of cash in your name?" And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; get lost, you who practice lawlessness. Nothing is as simple as you've made it out to be, let alone everything."

Lisa said...

Bob, honestly, I was not looking for any sort of apology as I am well aware of your position and public focus for the benefit of the majority of people interested in your blog and there is no need to apologize. I just wanted to throw another perspective out because I really appreciate it and see more beauty when you talk universals. I always understand the word Jesus to be God when spoken of in this blog and the comments and take no offense.

Julie, I hope you are right. I think God has plans for all of us and hopefully enables us to understand the blueprint correctly.

coonified said...

"Okay, fine, I'll put down the tequila and the bong..."

Nah, I think a bong hit would be useful. What is Love? .

But, tequila--yuck.

coonified said...

Come on! You know you want to dance to that. :)

"What is right...what is wrong...give me a sign... Yeah yeah."

coonified said...

"I know we're one, just me and you...I can't go on."

Lisa said...

Are you mocking me now, Coonified?!

Go with me on this and order a shot of Corazon next time you can...It was given the name for a reason...mmmm.

Plus tequila makes Haddaway almost good! ha ha, just teasing, I'm sure he's a very talented sweet man or not...

There's a trapeze with my name on it calling....gotta fly...

coonified said...

Hey, I was being esoteric. And I wasn't mocking you. Gosh. I just was having fun. It's a fun song with meaning all throughout...just got to tweak the negative capability a little.

coonified said...

"I'm sure he's a very talented sweet man or not..."

Probably not, but we can always distill the essence from things.

Gagdad Bob said...

Someone just searched "mysteress," and One Cosmos came out first. Obviously looking for Joan.

julie said...

Lisa - I do hope, very much, that you'll share some trapezing photos one of these days. Pretty please??

ximeze said...

Lisa & Julie: well said.

Have you noticed that 'O' communicates with an fluid, expansive quality, universally, where as the Voice of Man can be tagged for its contracting 'energy': box-up, lock-down & make rigid.

The whole 'I'm Saved because I belong to THIS club' stuff has all the earmarks of being Man-made, with its disturbing undercurrent of fear & desperation. Proponents of this should be honest & say instead: I'm Safe.

Yeah, don't you wish.

Faith, Grace & Revelation are not restricted to Time or Place, nor is the human struggle to connect & stay connected with 'O'. Men make clubs, with do-do-this & don't-do-that external rules for acceptance into the selected.

Club-ing misses the whole point of being in hot-pursuit of the Logos at all. The 'spirit' is wrong: contracting, instead of expanding - in the nature of the Creator.

Better yet, people should look to the spirit of what JC said in response to 'Lord, Lord, did we not do all these things in your name', ie: I never knew you = you never gnew Me.

Petey said...

The "I believe, therefore I'm saved" mentality is also a from of pure degraded gnosis -- the bad and mystifying kind, not the normative kind. It merely pretends at knowledge that cannot be had.

julie said...

On Friday, I posted about an interesting experience I had Thursday night. One of the things I noticed in that moment was that there was no sense of discrimination, for lack of a better word - no sense of conditionality based on faith, for instance.

visitor said...

you do realize that you're doing the very thing by ass-uming what others believe and thinking you're safe in your own beliefs?

ximeze said...


Lisa said...

Soon, Julie...Today someone filmed me doing the back-end split to a catcher but I missed the bar that time (of course, the time I did it better no one was filming ha ha...)and my legs were sloppy on the return so I told her not to bother making me a DVD but I'll bring my camera next time and try to get some shots. Some guy from the LA Times was there shooting a video for the website. I only teased him a little for having to work at the LA Times. He was actually very nice and engaging.

Patience, please. Let me get a little better plus I think I may get to do a layout next week to the catcher which would look way cooler if I can pull it off...

Van said...

"Go with me on this and order a shot of Corazon next time you can...It was given the name for a reason...mmmm."

I once noted here, my unusual 'ability'(heyyy, maybe I can join 'Heroes'?) - not exercised in many moons - to drink mass quantities and wake up fine without hangovers or getting sick. Mostly true, but not entirely true - there were two exceptions.

The first exception was the first time I got truly drunk, and it involved bottleS of wine.

And there was much yakking.

The second time, involved a cocktail waitress who very nicely (read 'evil', 'sneak') offered me a very colorful cocktail she called a Long Island Icetea, which was veeerryyyy tasty (read 'poisonous', 'evil', 'faust wouldn't touch it', etc). 'Would you like another?' she asked, and I answered 'yes indeedy I would!' at the end of every set, and mucho many more times after we were done playing. With some sense of cosmic justice being involved, as the sun rose we went back to her place... where there was almost immediatly much yakking. So much yakking that it was much more convenient to 'sleep' in the bathtub with my head angled just so... to enable the proper trajectory for the projectile yakking.

'Please God, take me now..." echoed through the porcelain walls, and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

As a poster I once saw showed a crazedly smilling person thrusting a shot of tokillya at the viewer with the caption:

Tequilla! (or 'Have you hugged your toilet today?')

"Go with me on this and order a shot of Corazon next time..."? Ah. Now I mean this in the nicest possible way...You can go take a flying leap off that trapeze and w/o a net! (and I mean that respectfully and with much affection)
(Oh, and if you happen to see a cute red headded cocktail waitress... (hmm older then...probably mid-50's or something by now)... on your way down towards a painful death - please do say Hi for me.)



Van said...

Ximeze said "Have you noticed that ...Man can be tagged ... make rigid... Men make clubs..."

Ximeze (!) whatever are you thinking...?

(Ouch! You didn't have to slap me THAT hard! Sheesh....)

Van said...

It's the Tequilla talking... even the memory of it... Tequilla - the poltergiest of spirits.

julie said...

Lisa, I can wait if I must. *sigh*
Van, Long Island Iced Tea is indeed a dangerous drink. My worst (and thus never repeated) hangover involved a couple glasses of that evil concoction. Not sure I really wanted to remember that night... :)

julie said...

Via Lileks this morning: Mark Steyn's publisher responds to questioning.
*wild applause*

julie said...

Oops - that's Ezra Levant defending his decision to publish the Danish cartoons a couple of years ago. Of course, since Steyn seems to be going through a similar process, the same arguments apply.

Lisa said...

Van- you silly rabbit...there's no tequila in wine and tequila is maybe one of 7 liquors in the damn drink. Have some self-control, man, I said have a shot not 25, okay, maybe 3. Yeah, I wish I was good enough to take a flying leap without a net or belt. I'd do it in your honor!;)

BTW, what do you have against Agave? Don't be a hater, love all of God's creatures. Plants have feelings too.