Saturday, March 07, 2009

Antichrist Update, Vol. 1 (1.07.10)

About a year ago, I wrote a series of posts about Obama. Now that the Obama presidency is well on its way to being an unmitigated catastrophe for the nation, I thought it might be fun to revisit them and repost some excerpts, just to see if my cʘʘnvision was really 20/∞. In short, we are now living in the future of which these posts were shadows. Or, to be precise, it was more the case of a shadowy future casting its darkness into the past for any gnocturnal b'atman to see.


Will brought up a very important point in a comment yesterday. It was in response to my questions, "What great world-historical events are invisible to the jaded elites of the present? What great vertical energies are entering the world today, undetected by a spiritually oblivious moonstream media?" Will's reflections on this are worth reproducing in full:

"There is a danger here, I think, given that this might be the age when 'Spirit pours out on all flesh,' i.e., the vertical energies actually do become, in a way, more visible, more tangible, even to the oblivious MSM.

"The danger is this: the influx of vertical energies for the most part cannot find suitable spiritual anchoring, do not result in a growth of spiritual insight and wisdom, but rather the vertical energies might be suborned by the horizontal in an entirely unwholesome way. [Let us symbolize this (-?!) -- ed.]

"An example: hypothetically speaking, let's say... oh, let's say, some political candidate who's running for... oh, let's say, for president of the United States... Let's say this candidate uses the influx of vertical energy in such a way that it does not invest him with any particular wisdom -- in fact, this candidate mouths and apparently believes in the same old amorphous lefty platitudes. Only... this candidate seems invested with a peculiar type of charisma that has citizens from coast to coast virtually swooning in some orgasmystic ecstasy... no one's higher intellect is sharpened, only their *feelings* are set on fire by this candidate in some peculiar way...

"Well, as was said re: the days when the Spirit pours out on all flesh, one must be very careful not to fall for false messiahs and whatnot... meanwhile, there are those who indeed are spiritually anchoring the vertical energy influx and are doing so invisibly and with a certain amount of travail, as is necessary at this time."


First of all, let's get this out of the way at the outset. Are we calling Obama the antichrist?

Yes, of course.

Nah, just kidding. Let's not engage in ad obamanem. Let's just say an embodiment of the antichristic principle. Please, let's be mature, and discuss this in terms of abstract cosmic principles, without getting personal. No need to demonize someone just because he's an instrument of satan. Besides, he's just the vehicle, not the driver. The surfer, not the wave.

Now, what do we mean by "antichrist?" I would say that, as Christ is Word-made-flesh, the realm of the antichristic would analogously represent the "lower principle" made flesh -- the instantiation, as it were, of the energies of the Fall.

So first of all, to go along with our analysis, one must believe that man is in some sense a fallen being with a built-in -- or at least ineveateapple -- dasein flaw. You don't have to be a fanatic about it. You only have to know that "something ain't right" with the earthlings, however you wish to conceptualize it. Being aware of this principle is our greatest inoculation against utopian leftist schemes to perfect mankind, which always result in unanticipated cosmic belowback, to say the least.

Secondly, you would have to believe that it is possible for the energies responsible for the Fall to be personified -- or, let us say, both focused and dispersed like a beam of darkness through the concavity or convexations of man's heart. As Christ is a blinding light, antichrist would be, oh, darkness visible. Thus, to those who live in spiritual darkness, it would appear as a false light -- as, say, a single match is brighter than the sun in an enclosed room, cut off from the real source of light.

The Serpent -- to paraphrase our best Unknown Friend -- sssymbolizes advanced intelligence ("the most cunning of the beasts") turned wholly toward the horizontal. Thus, it is a perversion of man's intellect, as it represents a self-sufficient naturalism and total (small r) realism that betrays the vertical source of human intelligence. As such, we would expect one aspect of the antichrist to be high intelligence combined with extraordinary vapidity, at least for those with spiritual discernment.

But this cannot merely be the philosophical vapidity of the doctrinaire atheist or scientistic materialist, or it could never gain traction in the human heart, which always hungers for Spirit, even (or especially) if it is the false kind. Rather, it would have to come cloaked in some sort of seductive or hypnotic faux verticality. It would indeed have to be charismatic and charming, bearing in mind the root meaning of former, which is "divine gift," and of the latter, which is "incantation" or "magic spell."

A spiritually normal person would be alarmed and even deeply creeped out if he possessed this kind of influence over others. At the very least, it would be an occasion for the deepest humility, combined with concern over the precarious state of the souls under his influence.

Most people, if they knew the implications, would not want this power, because they would know that they are neither worthy of it nor competent to deal with it, any more than they are competent to perform brain surgery. But a person with narcissistic issues will be too intoxicated by the feelings of adulation to care about the souls with whom he is toying. They are just props, part of his psychic furniture.

This power is a heavy responsibility and is not to be taken lightly. The spiritually normal person knows that this charis is only on loan to him (or courses through him locally from a nonlocal source), and that he is not free to use it as he will.

Rather, one is only free to use this power if it is aligned with its vertical source and with vertical principles, i.e., Truth, Love, Beauty, and Unity (not relativism, idiot compassion, aesthetic barbarism, and diversity). There is something coming through the charismatic, not from him, and as soon as one realizes this, it is an occasion, yes, for gratitude, but also fear and trembling. It is analogous to the power to send men to die for their country, only on the vertical plane. It is the ability to inspire selfless martyrs, but for what purpose? Our satanic Islamist enemies are clearly selfless idealists under the influence of charismatic leaders. So what?

Our Unknown Friend asks the questions, "Can one produce artificially intellectual, moral or spiritual inspiration? Can the lungs produce the air which they need for respiration?" No, of course not: "the very process of breathing teaches the laws of obedience, poverty, and chastity, i.e. it is a lesson (by analogy) of grace. Conscious breathing in of the reality of grace is Christian Hatha-yoga. Christian Hatha-yoga is the vertical breathing of prayer and benediction -- or, in other words, one opens oneself to grace and receives it."

Unknown Friend goes on to say that the antichrist represents "the ideal of biological and historical evolution without grace." This is a key idea, for what is a progressive? A progressive is someone who believes fervently in progress while fanatically denying its possibility, since progress can only be measured in light of permanent truths and transcendent ideals.

The antichrist "is the ultimate product of this evolution without grace and is not an entity created by God," since divine creation is always a vertical act or descent. Yes, all things ultimately "come from God," in the same sense that all light comes from the sun, but think of all the infernal uses to which man may put the light, darkling!

Now, in this circular die-electic, Obama is ultimately a creator of those who created him. Unknown friend writes that, just as there are spiritual beings who reveal themselves "from above," there are what he calls egregores, which are "engendered artificially [and collectively] from below."

Thus, "as powerful as they may be," they "have only an ephemeral existence," the duration of which "depends entirely on galvanising nourishment on the part of their creators." [As Obama's projected power begins to fade and the illusion is punctured, we'll see more and more people such as Brooks and Cramer publicly asking, "what was I thinking?" in supporting this intellectual cypher. The answer is, "you weren't. You were fantasizing." Of course, others -- the true believers -- will "dig in."]

As such, the really frightening thing about these kinds of amorphous demagogues is that they are given life and nourished by the rabble they nourish and to whom they give life, in a spiritually barren cycle. The result is either spiritual asphyxiation or starvation, or probably both. And starved and suffocating men are capable of anything. [So in terms of the future psychic weather, look for a kind of blinding "psychic frenzy" from the left.]

Ultimately, the antichrist is the shadow of the totality of mankind, as Jesus was the immanent shadow, so to speak, of the transcendent Divine Principle. The antichrist represents all that man is, and can be in the absence of divine grace. It is he who transported Jesus to the highest earthly mountain "and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory" and said to him All these things I will give you if you will fall down and worship me.

The secular extremist or fanatical progressive worships his own creation, and in so doing, gives birth to the antiword. Materially, it results in a lefthound Tower of Babel (i.e, the all-powerful state), whereas spiritually it results in a gelatinous tower of leftist babble (i.e., the vacuous but seductive demagogue who will lead the people in the direction of their most base impulses and envious desires).

Again, please bear in mind that we are simply discussing abstract meta-cosmic principles. The events depicted in this post are fictitious. Any similarity to any biologically living or spiritually dead person is merely coincidental.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Open for Isness

First of all, a Balthasar update. Recall that I'm trying to plow through his fifteen-volume (sixteen with epilogue) systematics. There are seven volumes on the Divine Beauty (the Glory of the Lord), five on the Good (the Theo-Drama) and three on the True (the Theo-Logic).

When last we spoke, I mentioned that I was getting bogged down in the aesthetics, and now I see why. In the meantime, I've skipped ahead to the Theo-Logic, and suffice it to say that I am pretty much blown away so far. This is a great book.

The problem was this: I got bogged down in volumes II-V of the aesthetics, because these mainly consist of Balthasar's analyses of other thinkers, some of whom are well known (e.g., Dante, Boethius, Denys), others relatively obscure (e.g., Hamann, Peguy), at least for this undereducated rube.

The thing is, these are not surveys or introductions. Rather, Balthasar -- who was absurdly erudite -- basically assumes a complete familiarity with this or that lumen being, and just gives his own idiosyncratic commentary. Therefore, I have to pretend I've actually read and fully assimilated, say, the Divine Comedy. In the original Italian.

But even for someone as well known as Dante, to truly comprehend what he was/is saying, I'd probably have to re-enroll in college, major in Renaissance literature, take a couple of courses on Dante, ignore all the stuff about how Beatrice was actually a symbol of his homosexual longing, and then get back to Balthasar.

Am I going to do that? No, I am not. I'm afraid it just wouldn't be the Raccoon way. Although, interestingly enough, I do have a kind of recurring dream, in which I am back in college in order to obtain another undergraduate degree in a field unrelated to psychology. Usually history, I think. Although I want to learn, it's all very tedious, just as it was in real life. At a certain point in the dream, I think to myself, "why am I doing this? I already have a Ph.D. I don't care if I get a bunch of F's. I'm outta' here."

That latter situation also happened in real life, when I flunked out of business school.

No, the Raccoon way of the masked pandit is "trans-academic," "trans-scholarly," and "trans-ambitious," meaning that it admittedly comes up short in these overrated qualities. However, our loose canon tries to compensate with other virtues, such as freshness, spontaneity, metaphysical comedy, jehovial witticisms, cheery optimysticism, freevangelical pundamentalism, comparative nonsense, coonical pslackology, fine insultainment, off-road spiritual adventures, speaking in Tongan (or ad homina homina homina) and all the rest of our Oly Slackraments.

But the Theo-Logic is another matter. Instead of surveying other fertile eggheads, this is just Balthasar's own raving, which is 100% compelling, perhaps even too dense to blog about. It's like trying to eat cheesecake all day. I have to read a couple pages, get up, walk around, loosen my top button, belch, and then come back to it.

I can't necessarily give it the general raccoomendation, because it's still a bit like reading someone like Heidegger, but I find that it is speaking beyond me to my very essence, if you will. To the extent that there is obscurity, it is an obscurity that necessarily accompanies any foray into the deepest depths of divine being, which, the more it unveils itself, the more it veils itself. In other words, its depth is bottomless. More on which later.

Also, these volumes are kind of expensive. Therefore, I just place them in my wishlist, and snap up one of them when the price comes down, which means that I jump around from volume to volume. Otherwise, this project will start eating into my CD budget, and we can't have that.

Speaking of which, I made an excellent discovery -- the Tord Gustavsen Trio. Try some of the samples. I would describe them, but the amazon reviewer does a pretty good job (although he does need to come up with a new adjective besides "shifting"):

"Such is the arresting beauty of Tord Gustavsen's sound, it's no surprise that his albums have captured a significant following, surpassing even those of other rarified artists on the ECM label. But the Norwegian pianist doesn't live on beauty alone. His sculpted playing... draws strongly on his church background with its tidy gospel voicings while also incorporating Spanish and South African accents, [and] has a kind of liquid weight....

"Beyond that, it's the remarkable shift-shaping qualities of Gustavsen's trio that make Being There so compelling.... The psychology of the relationship among him, bassist Harald Johnsen, and drummer Jarle Vespestad is made compelling not only by standard interactive effects, but also by the unique shape-shifting that occurs through continual shifts in how much voice each player has in relation to the others, how much lightness or darkness, how much intensity."

Some of the other descriptions: spacious, dreamlike, contemplative, spare, powerfully restrained, quiet rapture, crystalline warmth, gorgeous yearning, and "inspired by a love of spaces."

As a matter of fact, nearly all of the post-1960's jazz in my collection is on the ECM label (longtime home of Keith Jarrett; also the great Russian Orthodox composer Arvo Pärt, although I think this is the best introduction). ECM is a German company that specializes in a kind of "chamber jazz" that has a lot of modern classical leanings. They are also legendary for their impeccable recording quality.

They have a great series called Rarum, which is an introduction to some of their more prominent artists. I think my favorite one is the Eberhard Weber. Although he would be categorized as a "jazz bassist," he really combines American jazz with a modern European chamber sensibility, plus ambient, film, and world music. Try some of the samples. Obviously, some contemporary artists are still able to create musical beauty. (I've also heard that this new one with full orchestra is very good.)

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program. Which was what, again? Nah, I've got too much to do. Mrs. G. is approaching the denouement of the RCIA program this weekend, and will be very tied up, so I'll have to keep a body on Future Leader. I better try to finish as much work as I can today. Just consider this an open thread for anything you'd like to discuss, including music.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Time and How it Gets that Way: Evolution and the Conquest of Dimensionality

To review our situation: cosmic evolution "arrives finally at man in whom the world succeeds in uniting all the degrees of cosmic being." Again, in the evolution from matter to life, we go from a kind of timelessness to real time, since there can be no time in the absence of an observer, who must "suffer" it. This paradox is somewhat difficult to grasp, but it is nevertheless true: "It is life itself that makes the time from which it distances itself" (DeKoninck).

You could say that matter has exterior succession, in that one damn thing must precede and follow another. But there is no now, no "place" where time happens. Life binds and "uses" this temporal succession in the same way that we use space to build a house. In a way, there is no space until there is an enclosure. Same with time. Life binds space and time, and in so doing, eventually transcends both in Mind and Spirit.

As the biosphere contracts into increasingly dense life-centers, it is "lifted more and more above time." In turn, "beings are perfected to the degree that they are intemporal" (DeKoninck), so the evolutionary vector of time is toward eternity, or O. Schematically, one might say, time everlasting--> time --> timelessness; or perhaps exterior succession --> interior duration --> simultaneously copresent plenitude.

The latter state, instead of a temporal line or a circle, is like a perpetual explosion from the center out, or an overflowing from the Ground. It is the bush that keeps on burning, the fish the feeds the multitudes, and the Slack that cannot be named.

Somewhere in a past post I discussed this cosmic evolutionary scheme in terms of a conquest of dimensionality. The original explanation was somewhat skeletal, and I've always intended to flesh it out. Here it is:

"In many ways, human psychological development can be thought of as a conquest of dimensionality. (Don’t get bogged down in a literal understanding here -- this is a mental exercise to facilitate understanding.) For example, the psychotic mind inhabits a 'zero dimension' of pure mathematical symmetry. It is a world of infinite meaninglessness, with no floor or center, just a roiling panorama of catastrophic, uncategorizable novelty. Symbols are equivalent to what they symbolize and the nameless dread is endless, because there is nothing to contain or anchor it."

Think of this as a kind of existence plunged into sub-matter, without even the reliability of good old solid matter to hold oneself together. It is a pure absence of containment, either in time or space. Perhaps if you've ever had a panic attack, you know the feeling of the ontological ground being pulled out from under your feet. There is literally nothing to hold on to.

I remember once a patient telling me of a panic attack she had while walking around her neighborhood. She was reduced to sitting on the curb, desperately fixing her gaze on an ant that was walking around in the gutter. If she should lose sight of the ant, she was convinced that she would surely lose her mind -- she would just fall and keep falling, swallowed up in the deafening silence of the infinite spaces. Note as well that this is a timeless state; it feels as if the terror is endless, like a kind of hell. One never thinks, "relax, this will all be over in 15 minutes."

According to the psychoanalyst Melanie Klein, this is the type of anxiety we face in coming into the world. Think of the infant's mind as a kind of unbound space that will require parental containment in order to begin the slow process of creating temporal and spatial boundaries that are both "containing" and yet semi-permeable, just like a biological membrane. (Think of the baby as unbound ♂ in search of a ♀.)

A person whose boundaries are too rigid also cannot grow, for he essentially becomes a closed system as a defense against destabilizing knowledge and emotions. In this regard, one often sees adults cling to ideology in the same way an infant clings to the parent. It is not for the purpose of "truth" but containment. Some people do this with religion, others politics or science (e.g., Queeg), but the underlying cause is the same. In this regard, the tenured are no different than any other primitive totem worshipping cultists, except they get the summers off.

Psychological defenses against the Nameless Dread tend to be massive and indiscriminate. Think of vomiting. Your GI system detects something that isn't supposed to be there, and, one way or the other, violently discharges the intruder, along with anything else that might be in the general vicinity.

Psychotic projection is like this. It violently discharges all of the undigested psychic bits into the environment. But unfortunately, that is not the end of the matter. These undigested bits then become a multitude of persecutory entities that pervade everyone and everything, and which must be re-projected.

If you've ever read dailycuss or huffingandpissed, you can see that the sum-total of their world view is a kind of perpetual reaction to their own psychic projectile vomiting. I think this is the real secret behind their new fixation on Rush. Now that Bush-Cheney are no longer there to serve as "toilet breasts" for their violent projections, they desperately need a new receptacle.

Next up, "The (severely) autistic mind may be thought of as one-dimensional. It knows no depth, only points of sensory contact with objects that are known by their feel and texture -- hot, cold, hard, soft, rough, smooth, etc. For them, a communicative expression does not emerge from the human face. Rather, it is simply a bizarre collection of disconnected points -- a nose here, an eye there, a curved mouth down there. The points are not synthesized into an internal representation of the emotional depth or interior of the other.

"The psychoanalyst Francis Tustin wrote about how autistic defenses can operate in neurotic adults as well, for example, in certain repetitive rituals such as 'rocking.' These rituals help to contain an anxiously fragmented mind by focusing on some severely limited sensory perception. Without it, the mind might slip into the terrifying chaos of zero dimensions.

Again, one does not have to be autistic to have experienced this dimension. I remember one patient who was an accomplished physician by day, but after work would have to engage in the ritual of violently rocking back and forth in a rocking chair for an hour at a time in order to "recontain" herself. You might notice versions of this at the margins of your own personality. Any kind of compulsion often serves this purpose, as a kind of solid touchstone for the psyche to cling to.

"Once we reach two dimensions, we are in the realm of something more recognizably human. This was called by Melanie Klein the 'paranoid schizoid position,' and more people (including parts of oneself) inhabit it than you might realize. It is the world of extreme, forced splitting into diametrically opposed emotional categories of good and bad. This type of two-dimensional thinking pervades the Islamic world (i.e., house of Islam and house of war).

"Only with the emergence of the transitional space proper are we dealing with the creative use of three-dimensional psychological space. This is the imaginal realm that emerges between an infant and his or her loving caretakers. But this creative and dynamic space is often hijacked and reduced to two dimensions as a result of the malign imagination of internalized mind parasites.

"The fourth dimension adds time to the mix. This is called the 'depressive position,' a term of art that does not imply clinical depression per se, but the capacity to tolerate ambivalence and mature dependence (as opposed to foreclosing it through splitting) in order to form loving and stable relationships that endure through time.

"One of the reasons this state is 'depressive' is that it involves transcending the omnipotent psychological defenses of the lower dimensions. For example, the 'borderline' patient is not stably in the depressive position. Rather, when they become angry at a person in whom they are emotionally invested, they instantly convert the person into the category of all bad. Not only are they bad now, but they have always been, and always will be, bad. In a very real sense, time and history have been annihilated. The feeling creates the reality. [Obviously, this forms the basis of much leftist thought, in which depth of feeling is confused with clarity of thought.]

"Perhaps you have noticed when you shift from one dimension to another. For example, depression clearly involves a loss of dimensionality. One of its most striking characteristics is that the world seems to lose a vital dimension of emotional depth. Suddenly it is flat, lifeless, and devoid of the meaning that can only be located and experienced in the higher dimensions.

"Moreover, many psychological defense mechanisms operate by descending into a lower dimension. I call these 'dimensional defenses.' For example, there might well be unpleasant meanings and psychological realities located in the fourth dimension -- indeed, there usually are. One way to avoid them is to descend into a lower dimension where those meanings cannot be located or 'entertained' by the mind, any more than a circle can describe a cone. (I think of atheism as a fixed and rigid defense against the higher space of religiosity.)

Let's apply this to the evolution of life. If you were a bacteria, you wouldn't know anything about higher dimensions. Rather, your life would essentially be an eternal point. In the case of slightly higher forms of life, you might discover the line, in the sense that you could move toward food and back away from something dangerous or noxious. I imagine that lower mammals live in a kind of proto-space, and yet, it must be more like an eternal now. In other words, it is missing the fullness of temporal dimension; it is as if they can touch time, but not fully enter it.

To a certain extent, the birth of humanness coincides with the discovery of time -- of past and future, both in relation to this mysterious ontological hole we call "now." Since we live in time, we take it for granted, but it is actually -- obviously -- a very special state. As far as we know, nothing else in the cosmos has awakened to this temporal dimension.

But neither internal nor external reality are limited to four dimensions. In my opinion, one of the things that spiritual development involves first and foremost is the ongoing conquest of higher dimensions. One way to conceptualize this is to understand that each dimension brings with it a new degree of freedom. In the case of spiritual growth, it brings with it the discovery of vertical freedom, does it not?

What did the Master say? "My kingdom is not of this world."

The Book of Genesis is a good example of hyperdimensional prose (which is a good working definition of scripture), since it is something like a crystal through which the divine light is refracted in infinite ways. This is why it supports so many interpretations, each of which conveys the substance of spiritual truth (which feels very different than the substance of mere intellectual-rational truth). As Schuon says, it functions "to provide points of reference for a complex truth and for the sake of the Inexpressible." Postmodern barbarians never understand this, for dogma or doctrine provide "allusive indications..., the implications of which are limitless.... For it is not a question of inventing truth, but of remembering it."

A two-, three- or four-dimensional scientific or religious literalist will simply see something concrete in Genesis: someone dividing light and dark or water and land. A couple of people walking around in a garden. A tree you're not supposed to touch. Etc.

In the past, I have touched on the idea that spiritual experience arrives via spatial delivery at the shoreline between the infinite and the finite, between time and eternity. Consider the fact that we have two biological eyes or ears that are set slightly apart. Because each of the two organs has a slightly different vertex, we are able to see and hear stereoscopically or stereophonically. If you have only one good ear, you can't experience stereo, only mono.

Now, suppose we have a "third eye" or a "third ear." What would reality look like from that perspective? As a matter of fact, it is our third eye that sees into eternity; or conversely, seeing into eternity grows a third eye. Either way, there is a way of living in which these two modes -- the lower and higher eyes -- harmoniously coexist to facilitate the emergence of additional dimensions of depth -- of not being shipwrecked on the rocks of time, nor of being lost in eternity, but somehow experiencing time in eternity and eternity within time.

I tried my lovall best to capture this in the Coonifesto. That is, if our perception of spatial depth comes from our integration of different points of view, depth may be thought of as a function of the number of perspectives that are integrated in an experience or perception. I simply tried to integrate as many points of view as possible -- cosmological, biological, psychological, neurological, philosophical, anthropological, theological, mystical, etc.

Having said that, the integration does not come "from the bottom up." Rather, the integration is actually "at the top," but it can only be progressively revealed to us as we grow spiritually. But how do we maintain a stable, balanced life in the material plane when our thoughts are constantly drifting towards intellection of the higher realms?

By finding your own way to be in the world without being of the world -- by participating joyfully in all of the dimensions available to the human being, while at the same time not getting lost in them "from below." After all, this is how the Creator man-ages, isn't it?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Meta-Cosmic Reflections on Life Itself

So, yesterday I created the cosmos. That's a difficult act to follow. Now what? In cerebration of March Forth!, i.e., Innernational Transdimensional Raccoon Day, I suppose I'd like to reflect on the cosmic meaning of Life.

This cosmos is a four-banger. After the big bang, we get the equally big bangs of Life, Mind, and Spirit, although I'm sure the least of you kits realizes that what is chronologically later is ontologically earlier.

Again, Spirit is both alpha and omega, not something that only suddenly appears 13.7 billion years into the big bang. Rather, what is new is the sudden realization by conscious beings that Spirit had been doing its thing all along. However, timelessness takes time, as Genesis makes plain; no one is there to realize Spirit until the sixth day -- and really, the seventh day -- even though it was there all along. One might say that the purpose of the Sabbath is to contemplate this orthoparadoxical truth.

It is only a conceit of physics that the first big bang is the origin of the cosmos, for we can argue with equal boombast that there was truly "nothing" until there was a living being there to experience it. Otherwise, you're caught in the literally unimaginable space -- which is no space at all -- of a reality without a point of view.

For example, just try to imagine the room where you are now sitting from every possible angle. This would take the rest of your life. For in reality, the sum total of all points-of-view would still not equal the transcendent no-point-of-view.

So when cosmologists talk about the big bang being the origin of the cosmos, they're obviously "retrojecting" their current consciousness back in time. Which is fine. This is what I did yesterday in order to prove that consciousness and interiority were indeed there at the origin, and at every step of the way between then and now, a now which obviously "always is."

In order to better understand what Life is, we need to get away from the reductionistic schemes of biologists -- who don't really study Life Itself, only abstractions from it. (When I capitalize Life or Mind, I am not just being pompous, but speaking of them "as such," i.e., ontologically and concretely rather than scientistically and abstractly.)

DeKoninck -- who at times again reminds me very much of Teilhard -- wrote that "in the theory of mutations, biology too sees life advance by successive explosions," becoming richer and more concentrated along the way. Viewed vertically, the physical world is only an epidermis, or perhaps "like the shell of an egg" through which Life pushes up from within.

Before the emergence of Life, there was no "center" to existence. Rather, it was as if it were "all periphery," if such a thing can be imagined (which it can't). But among other things, that first living being was the emergence of a center of existence. Afterwards, the flow of evolution will involve increased centration, which ultimately coheres around something called I AM, more on which later. Suffice it to say that Life is a kind of penumbra around the radiant I AM.

Now, just as the first big bang -- creative though it may have been -- "destroyed" whatever previous order existed, so too does Life put an end to the reign of the physical. Again, I caution you to look at the situation vertically, for from that surpassing standpoint, an entirely new cosmic order was revealed 3.85 years ago, when the first itty-bitty defied matter, declared its independence from entropy, and became a transcendent teensy-weensy standing over and above the material plane, even while remaining dependent upon it.

When this happened, what actually happened? -- again, not scientifically but ontologically. After all, this was the primordial revolution, a revolution of which we are all still beneficiaries. How can we ever repay the debt owed to our founding dissipative structures, who defied all the odds in rebelling against the mightiest army every assembled, i.e., pure matter?

DeKoninck writes that "it is the thrust of life which dismantles the universe under its physical aspect, which uses this universe and makes space grow" (emphasis mine). This is a tricky point, but "When life travels toward an organization always more intense, the disorganization of the physical world is only a loss of a cosmos which is absorbed in life."

As I attempted to explain in my book, the emergence of Life did indeed spell the end of Matter's reign, although materialists still haven't gotten the memo. Here it is, p. 70:

"Thus, regardless of how close scientists come to a complete understanding of the cosmos, if they are employing the standard ways of materialistic science, it will be an understanding from before the instant life became manifest. In order to place a bright line between observer and observed, subject and object, science must retreat to a time when no subjects apparently existed. In short, science tries 'to pull the subjective into the objective by pulling the present into the sufficiently remote past'" (emphasis mine... and not mine too, I guess).

Verily, as described by the brilliant theoretical biologist Robert Rosen, biologists -- and scientists in general -- proceed as if living things are "clues only to what the universe is not like," but the more they prove this point, the more they disprove it, for they are like branches of a great tree trying to show that the trunk is dead by growing more leaves.

But you can't eliminate Life that easily, you facile academic boneheads. For what prevents us from turning the cosmos right side up and seeing that Life is a vital clue as to what the universe is actually like? Or, to take it a bit further, what if Mind is an even more vital clue?

Prior to the emergence of Life, there is actually no time or space in the cosmos, for again, space only exists relative to an observer, and time can only "flow" relative to a "now," and there is no now in the absence of Life.

To plagiaphrase DeKoninck, the biosphere lifts itself out of the fragmentation of space and the dispersion of time, which are really the "ashes and smoke of a world which glows with life." Life becomes "a center of pure density," and "cuts through space-time as the prow of a ship cuts through the water." Time does not mete out Life; rather, Life metes out time. Life, in binding space, necessarily binds time. The rhythm of life is the rhythm of being -- although the rhythm of James Brown expresses the point equally well.

Life specifically "travels against the grain of the diffusion of time," and is a "triumph" over its "scattering." We especially see this with the emergence of Mind, which is obviously inconceivable in the absence of memory. For what is memory? First of all, let us bear in mind that DNA is nothing but a memory of life's journey. But so too is a conscious man a man who "remembers" -- not just horizontally, but vertically. Or, to put it another way, the most conscious man is the man with the most vertical recollection, whose memory "wraps around" existence in the same way that Life transcended matter by wrapping around it.

To wrap one's being around existence in this manner is to be fully present to oneSelf. This is what it means to be a big gnosis-all, for the adventure of Life culminates in the Man who "succeeds in uniting all the degrees of cosmic being.... The world tends to join in man its extremities separated by space-time" (DeKoninck).

Thus, we enter time in order to be fulfilled in it. As we rumble and bumble and tumble through its rocky corridors, it is very much as if we are polished and perfected, once again becoming atemporal in process, a finite mode of the infinite. In so doing, we return to the origin of our ring-tale, but now know it for the first time.

Now, March Forth, inward and upward, you ring-taled bastards!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I Created the Cosmos! (3.02.10)

DeKoninck -- who obviously knew what it meant to inhabit a right side-up cosmos -- wrote that "It is only in human understanding that the cosmos becomes a universe in the full sense." In other words, the "end" of the causal chain cannot be found in the endless horizontal iterations of abstract matter, but in our concrete vertical understanding. Which is another way of saying in truth, specifically, the truth of being.

In this regard, it is critical to bear in mind that "God does not act" -- or only act -- "on things, but from within" them. Thus, it is as if God comes to his own fruition, so to speak, in the uncreated light of our interior understanding (or in love or virtue, but that is a subject for a slightly different post). Therefore, "Creation is essentially a communication," a communication of being.

In fact, to turn it around, it would not be possible for God -- since it would contradict the divine nature -- to "create a cosmos which was not essentially ordered to an intra-cosmic intelligence." In other words, God could no more create an unintelligible universe than an evil or ugly one.

So when we see that being itself is overflowing with truth and beauty, we should not be surprised. Awed, but not surprised. The really strange thing, as Aquinas observed, is that "the perfection of the entire universe can exist in one of its parts." That would be us. "For this reason, philosophers have held that the ultimate perfection to which the soul can attain consists in embracing the whole order of the universe and its causes."

In my book, for reasons that should be apparent, I use the pneumaticon ʘ to symbolize this state of the soul in its relation to the totality of O, or of human part to divine whole.

O is not just source but end; ontologically speaking, it is both alpha and omega. But this is to be expected, since the "ultimate cause" must also be the "ultimate end." Thus, the Poet is not really being poetical but quite literal when he talks about the end preceding the beginning, and how both are "always there," for these are things that must be. It is the Law. Some poets are indeed the unacknowledged legislators of the world.

Meaning, interior, wholeness, unity -- these are all interconnected aspects of the same prior reality. It should be a banality to point out that the cosmos can have no meaning unless there is an interior where it can be apprehended. Nor can there be meaning in the absence of unity and wholeness, for meaning essentially consists of the reduction of multiplicity to unity -- or the apprehension of the hidden unity behind or above the veil of appearances.

Now, if there is an "ultimate meaning," there must be an "ultimate interior," so to speak. Or, to turn it around, to say that the ultimate meaning could be found in empiricism or profane reason -- i.e., matter or mechanical thought -- is not only to say that there is no meaning, but to abolish the very ground and possibility of meaning. Here is how DeKoninck describes it:

"In order for the world to have a raison d'être, in order for it to be profoundly one and a universe, it is not enough that it be composed of parts and that these parts physically constitute a whole; it is also necessary that all the individual parts be oriented toward that one in which all together can exist, that each of the principal parts of the universe should be the entire whole, that each of these universes be in some fashion all the others."

In other words, the universe must be both interobjective and intersubjective, with both properties emanating from the a priori wholeness and interior unity of O, the origin, the one, the OMega. In short, the cosmos must fundamentally be a place in which everything preserves its "partness," even while each part participates in (not just with) all the others.

In otherother words, the universe, since it is one, is an internally related totality -- which is why we all intuitively apprehend the unity of being, from which the truth (not to mention, goodness and beauty) of being radiates, both from subjects and from objects.

For the truth "flows" from objects into subjects, even while the object completes itself in the knowing subject. Without objects there is nothing to be known, and without subjects there is no way to know it. But in the end, both flow from the same prior unity, i.e, Truth as such.

It is not so much that "being is transcendentally accessible to intelligence" (DeKoninck). Rather, that is only half the story, for if that is the case -- which it is -- then it must mean that being and truth are one -- or at least not two. After their little game of hide and seek, or bride and seeker, they return to themselves and embrace in the one fleshlight of the divine-human subject.

Being is "good," for, among other reasons, it is open to intelligence, to which it gives of itself without reserve. There is indeed a kind of divine marriage, or sacred bond, between being and intellect, as the two become united in one flesh. As this marriage matures, we can see in the cosmos "a tendency toward the thought in which all its parts are united and lived; the cosmos thus tends to compenetrate itself, to touch itself in the intelligence of man, in which it can realize this explicit return to its First Principle."

Why yes,

The molten infinite pours forth a blazen torrent of incandescent finitude, as light plunges an undying fire into its own shadow (oops! a dirty world) and f-aa-lll-lllllll-ssssssssssss like 1-2-3-7-12 in love with the productions of time, hurtling higgledy-piggledy into jivass godlings & samskara monsters all the way down.

You might say that the emancipating journey from cosmic infancy to metacosmic maturity begins in an inside-out universe of "pure exteriority. The world was so to say entirely outside, separated from itself, imprisoned in itself and its own obscurity" (DeKoninck).

You know -- for it is written in the New Testavus -- pure emptiness, a formless void without mind or life, a shadow spinning before the beginning over a silent static sea, unlit altar of eternity, fathomless vortex of the Infinite Zero.

In this murky state of affairs, the world "is dead, empty, an abyss of division." And yet, here we are, like mushrooms that have sprouted in the darkness of cosmic night. For "intelligence must appear. This demand is written in it from the beginning.... it is necessary that the universe fall back in a certain way on itself, and that it close in on itself, that it interiorize, and it is just this interiorization that will permit it to open onto itself."

In other words, it is only our understanding of the cosmos that makes it possible. For if we couldn't understand it, surely we wouldn't be here. The ultimate cause of the cosmos is its truth, a truth we may know and renew in the timeless ground of the intellect. So when I say that "I caused the universe," I am not really making any special claim for myself. Now and again I do it all the timeless.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Telos All About the Truth of the World, Brother Bob

The cosmos is the residue of man; the universe is merely the placenta, but we are the centa'.

That was a comment I left over at Just Thomism the other day. It was provoked by James' interior dialogue, in which he tells himsoph -- or rather, vice versa -- that "if it takes so many seeds to make a dandelion, we could expect a universe to be left over after making an earth."

I am reminded that in another post -- if I remember correctly -- James mentioned that it is not as if there are four independent kinds of causation, i.e., material, efficient, formal, and final. Rather, there is only causality, so that all causes will have features of each.

This is one of the intrinsic errors of scientism, as it tries to pretend it can get along without final causes, even while habitually slipping them in the back door. For the truth is, one cannot even think coherently in the absence of final causation.

As the wiki article specifies, the final cause "is that for the sake of which a thing exists or is done, including both purposeful and instrumental actions and activities. The final cause or telos is the purpose or end that something is supposed to serve, or it is that from which and that to which the change is. This also covers modern ideas of mental causation involving such psychological causes as volition, need, motivation or motives, rational, irrational, ethical, and all that gives purpose to behaviour."

Now, to say that the cosmos was created is just another way of saying that it has a final cause, purpose, or end: an alpha and omega, for the one implies the other.

Or, to turn it around, to the extent that final causes exist, then there is a Creator. Or to turn it around again, since there is a Creator, we should expect to see final causes permeating existence. Furthermore, in the absence of a Creator, these final causes make no sense at all, for in eluminating the Creator you have removed their very ground. It would be analogous to positing material cause in the absence of matter, efficient cause in the absence of energy, or formal cause in the absence of boundaries between things.

So the scientistic attack on final cause is simply a veiled attack on the Creator, and with that, thought itself; and ultimately on man as such, for there is no man without purpose. Take away meaning and you have abolished man.

This is why the "final cause" of the left is to systematically destroy intrinsic meaning, and to replace it with their wholly man-made meanings and purposes; which in turn converts you to a slave, for a slave is any human who is forbidden to discover and actualize his transcendent reason for being.

Metaphysics deals with ultimate causes "from above," i.e., the vertical, as opposed to the purely horizontal causes explored by science. Thus, one way to eliminate final cause is to simply pretend that the vertical does not exist, even though, again, the very conduct of science is impossible in the absence of verticality, no matter how attenuated. The moment a scientist has said "truth," he has said "vertical," and therefore finality, absolute, and God. For the truth of something is its final cause.

What is the truth of man? Note that the materialist does not really eliminate final cause. Rather, he simply affirms that the final cause is the material or efficient cause, i.e., random matter and energy. That being the case, he is promulgating the metaphysical absurdity of "absolute relativism," or the impossible idea that the ultimate meaning of existence is ultimate meaninglessness.

But being is thoroughly infused with the "residue of God," most notably, in the form of the truth, beauty, goodness, and unity we encounter there. As Balthasar writes, these transcendentals "are all pervasive and therefore immanent qualities of being as such." Furthermore, they are inexhaustible, in keeping with their divine provenance.

Which is why the perversion of scientism is so perverse, in that it annihilates "the depth dimension of being." "The formula A is nothing other than... typifies this perversion, whatever transcendental it affects." For it is much more the case -- again, thanks to the radiant plenitude of O -- that "A is always something other than" (Balthasar).

Therefore, despite the best efforts of the scientistic Adversary, "Neither goodness nor beauty nor truth is exhausted by any de-definition [or deconstruction, or attack on linking]; the multi-dimensional reality of the transcendentals can never be flattened out by any kind of reduction, and there is no way to capture the mystery either of their existence or of their essence in a formula" (Balthasar).

To lead a spiritual life is simply to lead a life that fundamentally bears on eternity. The tragedy of existence, as all Christians know, is that -- at least for the time being -- "ever-greater love calls forth ever-greater hatred."

Ah, little lambs, you're starin' at my fingers. Would you like me to tell you the little story of left wing-right wing, of Rush vs. Obama?

I think we are now in a position to coontemplate DeKoninck's orthoparadoxical statement that "Every natural form tends toward man. The idea of man bursts forth from no matter what form, even from a material point of view. The essential desire of prime matter, which always indefinitely exceeds any form received, is to be actuated by the immobile form of man. And in this perspective, subhuman forms are much less states than tendencies."

Ah, dear hearts, do you see the point, and how DeKoninck cannot not be speaking the truth? For you see, "truth is not just a property of knowledge, but a transcendental quality of being as such" (Balthasar). To know any truth is to know all truth, at least in potential. And to know this is to know the final cause of existence, as the cosmos completes and perfects itself in the life and truth and being of spirit.

[T]he man who does not dare to jump in the water will never learn what it means to swim and... the man who does not dare to jump into the truth will never attain the certainty that truth in fact exists.... [T]his first act of faith, of self-abandoning confidence, far from being irrational, is simply the prior condition of any certainty about the existence of the rational in the first place. --Balthasar, Theo-Logic: Truth of the World

Definitely one of my all time favorite films:

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