Saturday, April 04, 2009

Anti-Bob Update #6: The Ones For Whom They Were Laying in Wait

(A re-gifted post from yesterjeer.)

So, why has the MSM given Obama a pass on his two-decade plus involvement in what can only be called a racist and anti-American hate group operating under the guise of Christianity?

I can think of two main reasons: first, the usual soft bigotry of low expectations. Left wing racists don't expect blacks to live up to the same ethical standards as whites. More generally, any member of an authorized left-wing Victim Group is free of the culpability that applies to the rest of us. Not only that, but in the upside down world of the left, the immoral act of a victim becomes virtuous (e.g., terror is caused by fighting it).

Here I am reminded of a scene from Annie Hall, in which Alvy's father reflects the casual bigotry of the condescending liberal:

ALVY'S FATHER: You fired the cleaning woman?

ALVY'S MOTHER: She was stealing.

ALVY'S FATHER: But she's colored.


ALVY'S FATHER: So the colored have enough trouble.

ALVY'S MOTHER: She was going through my pocketbook!

ALVY'S FATHER: They're persecuted enough!

ALVY'S MOTHER: Who's persecuting? She stole!

ALVY'S FATHER: All right -- so we can afford it.

ALVY'S MOTHER: How can we afford it? On your pay? What if she steals more?

ALVY'S FATHER: She's a colored woman, from Harlem! She has no money! She's got a right to steal from us! After all, who is she gonna steal from if not us?

Exactly. Who are Rev. Wright and his colored followers supposed to hate if not us?! Leave the man alone! We deserve it!

Thus, for example, at dailykos, the matter was "reframed" [BTW, "reframing" is a new word for the same magical all-purpose cognitive tool of the left, i.e., lying; in other words, lying has been reframed as reframing] as white racists persecuting a harmless old curmudgeon, perhaps played by Redd Foxx, for expressing perfectly reasonable opinions: "Please let an old black man have his anger in the privacy of his church.... Are our hearts so small and our need for reassurance so great that we cannot allow an old black man who dedicated his life to his community his anger? Are you honestly going to tell me that this is the first time white America has seen and heard from black folks?"

As if we care that he is angry as opposed to malevolently insane. It's good to be angry. It just depends upon what you're angry about. God hates evil. But if you're angry about the U.S. inventing AIDS to engage in black genocide, or about our government being behind the 9-11 attacks, or the CIA bringing crack cocaine into American cities, then I don't care if you're boiling over with rage or eerily calm -- either way, you're insane.

Besides, the kosbag assures us that Wright is no different than those evil Jews anyway: "Have we not heard what Rabbis routinely say about Palestinians across the US?" I have to admit, he's got a point. More than once, I've heard Palestinians referred to as "bloodthirsty, Jew-hating fanatics who will slit the throat of every last Jewish child." No, wait. That was in the Hamas charter.

Speaking of which, it's a real mystery why Jews continue to vote Democrat, when the only widespread source of organized anti-Semitism is on the left, whereas the ranks of the right are filled with people such as myself who regard Israel as so self-evidently morally, politically, intellectually, spiritually, and comedically superior to its barbarous and humorless neighbors, that we would not abandon her under any circumstances. It is one of the few sources of light in this dark world.

Anyway, what is the second reason Obama's membership in a religious hate cult is so uncontroversial to the MSM? Because Rev. Wright is simply saying out loud what virtually all leftists believe: that the United States is inherently racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, and imperialistic, and a source of worldwide oppression, not liberty. Leftism is a hate cult, the only difference being that to learn its tenets it usually costs you much more than a few bucks thrown into the collection plate every Sunday.

Rather, in order to learn what Rev. Wright teaches, one normally has to spend a few hundred thousand dollars at an elite university. So in this regard, Obama is a true egalitarian, since his church is a bargain compared to the cost of a liberal university education.

So where did Obama pick up this affinity for insanely hateful rhetoric? If he were a person of pallor who belonged to a church with equally morally repugnant beliefs -- say, that blacks were the cause of their own lynching, or that Muslims should be rounded up and placed in concentration camps -- his political career would be over faster than you can say David Duke.

At Weekly Standard, Andrew Ferguson has a piece in which he analyzes the content of Obama's hollow-as-a-stump speeches, which seem so vacuous and shallow. And yet, unconscious logic mandates that underneath the gauzy rhetoric there must be a demonology at work, in which there is going to be hell to pay for those responsible for our wretched and hopeless situation.

The only thing that separates Obama from the average pol is that he doesn't explicitly name the enemy, but leaves it to the fevered imaginations of the primitive psychoclass to whom he resonates. But knowing what we know about the imaginations of our ideological enemas drawn to dank pouthouses such as dailykos and huffintonpost, I don't like the idea of anything having to do with state power being excreted through the bowels of those ignoranuses -- not my health, and certainly not my automobile warranty.

In a campaign known for its masturbatory solipsism, the crotch phrase We Are the Ones We've Been Waiting For nevertheless impresses with its self-pleasuring absurdity. Ferguson notes that the phrase cannot be translated into French, since it doesn't technically make any sense, although "do you sell inflatable dolls?" comes the closest.

And yet, it must mean something, or people wouldn't react so strongly to it. In other words, it must again have some vibratory unconscious resonance that simply doesn't penetrate the more mature among us.

The provenance of the line actually passes through feminist literary hack Alice Walker, who says she took it from -- hold on to your hat, you won't believe it -- a left-wing-radical-feminist-bisexual poetess! Walker suggests that we've been waiting for us because "we are able to see what is happening with a much greater awareness than our parents or grandparents, our ancestors, could see."

I suppose that's possible. For example, Einstein saw further than Newton. But.... Alice Walker sees further than Shakespeare? Does Deepak Chopra fleece further than Tony Robbins? Does Bill Maher see further than Monty Python? Can Keith Olbermann pee further than his paranoid delusions? For that matter, do Obama and his bitter band of statists have greater vision than America's founding liberals?

Hey, as Louis Armstrong said about jazz, "if you have to ask, you'll never know":

"When Obama's supporters say 'We are the ones we've been waiting for,' what they mean is that in the long roll call of history, from Aristotle and Heraclitus down through Augustine and Maimonides and Immanuel Kant and the fellows who wrote the Federalist Papers, we're number one! We're the smartest yet! Everybody -- Mom, Dad, Gramps and Grandma, Great Grandpa and Great Grandma, maybe even the Tribal Elders -- they've all been waiting for people as clued-in as us!"

Yes, but... how can a post-literate rabble of cross-eyed and hypnotized.... I'll just let Ferguson try to explain it:

"No one who's wandered through an Obama rally and heard the war whoops and seen the cheerful, vacant gazes would come away thinking, These are the smartest people ever. I'm sorry, they just aren't. What is unmistakable is the creepy kind of solipsism and the air of self-congratulation that clings to his campaign. There is something happening, he says in stump speeches. And what's happening? Change is happening. How so? The reason our campaign has been different is about what you, the people who love this country, can do to change it. And the way to change it is to join the campaign, which, once you join it, will change America."

Etc. Ferguson calls it "optimistic despair. The overarching theme of Obama's speeches, and of his campaign, is that America is a fetid sewer whose most glorious days lie just ahead, thanks to the endless ranks of pathetic losers who make it a beacon of hope to all mankind."

And here's where the scary part comes in. Because someone is responsible for this horrible mess we're in. Obama doesn't name names, but he is riding on a wave of half-awake hyper-partisans who have no reticence whatsoever in naming them:

"Who are the agents of this despair? By whose hand has the country been brought so low?" These agents "vanish in the fog" of Obama's rhetoric: "Cause and effect are blurred. Bad things happen though nobody does them. Instead we face disembodied entities, ghostly apparitions."

The most likely reason for the evasiveness is that "if Obama named anybody, the cat would be out of the bag.... Put them all together and it's likely to come to a fairly high number of people: stockholders, employees and managers of globalized companies; insurance claim adjusters, guys on oil rigs, hog farmers, pro-lifers, moms in SUVs, taxpayers who decline to float bonds for local schools, voters who pulled the lever for President Bush and are still kindly disposed toward him."

If Obama "dared to wrap bodies around those disembodied forces, if he began to trace effects back to the agents that cause them, then his campaign would suddenly appear to be what it is: a conventional alignment of political interests, trying to seize power from another conventional alignment of political interests.... His fans, it turns out, aren't the people they've been waiting for; they're just the same old people, like everybody else."

Yes, but I'm afraid that we are the ones for whom they're laying in wait.


Update thirteen months later:


Friday, April 03, 2009

Free Love and the Intimacy of Beer

We're still talking about the shocking emergence of subjects in a heretofore objective cosmos (i.e., prior to 3.85 billion years ago, when Life staggered into the manifestivus and really livened things up).

Balthasar says that "subjectivity is intimacy." And what is intimacy? I mean, besides subjectivity? Let's see: L intimus innermost. OL interus inward.

Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but the source of this subjectivity and intimacy can only be in God; you could say that subjectivity arises from the Father, intimacy from the relation between Father and Son. And as Balthasar spells out in volume three of the Theo-logic, the Spirit is both the subjective witness to this intimacy and its objective fruit. Which is why "there is no truth outside the truth of the love between Father and Son."

I will do my best to explain. Or, better yet, just try to stay out of the way.

If man were not thoroughly intersubjective (as is the Trinity), he would starve or asphyxiate in the prison of his own being. Indeed, love is our only "escape hatch," both horizontally and vertically. It is the "way out" of ourselves (and therefore, the way in).

Oops. I'm having a flashback. I remember the first time that Satan's Balm ever crossed my lips in a sufficient quantity to alter my consciousness. Not for nothing is liquor referred to as spirits. In this case it was only beer, but the feeling was of such... liberation. Liberation from what?

Why, from Bob, of course. Mind parasites too, but mainly just me. And then, once liberated from myself, I was "free," at least as long as the illusion lasted. But then, for a number of years, I had difficulty reconciling these two Bobs. Frankly, I didn't have much use for Sober Bob. And in a way, he did eventually die off.

Fortunately, I realized early on that beer -- as wonderful as it is -- was no kind of permanent solution to the problem of Bob and of liberation. And yet, I never forgot the lesson -- that what we call "reality" is very much a state of mind, and that "liberation" is always just a few biochemical microns away.

You could say that my goal was to become "intoxicated" all of the time, but without the intoxicants. And in fact, if any of you have noticed a slightly "drunken" or "careening" quality to these posts, I believe we can trace it back to that first liberating libation. Of course, Jesus makes many references to intoxicating fluids: water, wine, blood, and ultimately spirit, which is obviously quite "fluidic," right? Right.

I don't want to make too much of this, but it is also true that alcohol weakens that annoying membrane between self and world. This is too obvious to even warrant comment. But the point is, the weakening of the membrane enhances the quality of intimacy with the world. Intimacy allows the world in, while simultaneously allowing us out of our neurocage.

Now, one cannot be intimate if one cannot be oneself. In fact, the two are more or less synonymous: intimacy is being oneself in the presence of another who is also being him- or herself. You could say that it is "inner contact," or "touch" between what is most inward in two subjects. Again, I think what really distinguishes the Christian God is that it is always in this state of exquisite intimacy, which must require "one becoming two" and "two becoming one" in Spirit.

(A brief aside: in my book, I may have implied that the idea of an intersubjective God resulted from the unique trimorphic structure of the human family, rather than vice versa. I would just like to make it clear that this intersubjectivity could never have arisen "from the bottom up," but is a radiating "gift" from the top down. I still maintain that the helpless and neurologically incomplete infant is the hinge of cosmic evolution, but that this is the space where God initially "gets in," so to speak, for we preserve this space for the rest of our lives.)

I don't know if this is all too obvious, but in order to have true intimacy, there must be a kind of absolute separateness, or aloneness, that nevertheless has the capacity for union, or oneness.

I've mentioned before that my best teacher in graduate school made the comment that the healthy person wants to go from one to two, whereas the sick person wants to go from two to one. In other words, the healthy person first realizes his identity and his individualism, and therefore his aloneness, which he would then like to share with another, and therefore go from one to two (but which will in turn become a "higher" one).

But the sick person either never develops his identity, or else cannot tolerate his "twoness," or separation. In short, due to either separation anxiety or abandonment depression, he wishes to remain in a state of primitive merger, fusion, or "oneness" with the other -- in the way that the infant is primitively fused with the mother.

Such a relationship might look "intimate," but it is actually parasitic or symbiotic. Almost all unhealthy relationships have features of this (although it is also common for two people who are incapable of intimacy to get together and exist as a couple of wholly autonomous "objects," so to speak; they are together, but never really "together," like children who engage in "parallel play").

As always, to quote Coleridge, "two very different meanings lurk in the word, one." Again, the Christian One is very different from the Buddhist or Muslim one, for in the case of the latter two, the other simply cannot be preserved, at least intrinsically. In the case of Islam, a radical monotheism has no place for trinitarian love as its highest ideal, whereas the radical atheism of Buddhism discovers shunyata, or emptiness, at the heart of the cosmos.

I don't think it is any coincidence whatsoever that the ideal of romantic love and companionate marriage only emerged in the Christian West. If we consider the clash of civilizations between Islam and the West, much of it revolves around entirely irreconcilable attitudes toward women, sexuality, intimacy, and family. In Saudi Arabia, for example, women are not permitted to even be subjects in public. Rather, they are forced to be objects, no doubt because of intense male anxiety around sexual intimacy.

But there is an equally profound abyss between our tradition of conservative liberalism vis-a-vis the radical left on this issue. Is anyone foolish enough to believe that feminism, or the "sexual revolution," or severing the mystical link between sexuality and reproduction have actually increased intimacy? I am quite certain that these postmodern attitudes actually serve to further bury man in the body and to foreclose the space of intimacy and therefore love.

The purpose of a relationship is not to gratify the self. Rather, it is to surrender the self, to escape the oppressive prison of solitary self-sufficiency. It is none other than the kenosis, or self-emptying, that again mirrors the relation between Father and Son, and Son and world. In self-surrendering love, we are truly the image and likeness of the Divine.

I remember back in my moonbat daze, a typical thought might have been something along the lines of, "What can a celibate old priest, of all people, know about love, marriage, and sexuality?" But I have never before encountered anyone who has a more profound and subtle understanding of the microdynamics of love than Balthasar. In fact, it makes whatever I learned of love in my graduate studies in psychology appear rather pathetic in comparison. (Bion excepted, of course. Most of his books acknowledge my debt to my wife without whose support I could not attempt to write at all. You see? Love is the source, the prerequisite, and the end of real truth.)

Just this morning, I woke up with the following thought in my head: how disappointing -- even devastating -- it would be to discover that all of this writing I've been doing over the past four years came only from "me."

As I've mentioned before, it is sometimes difficult to know whether this is humility or grandiosity, but I don't think for one minute that this comes from "me." Rather, it is the objective fruit of a kind of subjective intimacy. Again, in the Trinity, the Spirit is both the "subjective intimacy" between Father and Son and the overflowing "objective fruit" of their intimacy.

So in order to have proximity, there must first be distance; without separation, there can be no union; without self-emptying, there can never be self-filling.

Evidently -- or so we have heard from the wise -- God is in a perpetual state of self-emptying, so that his "weakness" is ultimately his strength, something which the non-Christian cannot grasp. And we haven't even spoken yet of how this is all linked to freedom, for nowhere are we more free than when we abandon the self and reveal the truth of our being to the receptive Other.

[T]he spirit is veiled from itself in order that it might seek and find itself, not in itself, but in the infinite spirit that created it.... Receptivity is thus like a deep, unclosable breach opened up in the closed circle of being-for-itself. Only by welcoming things from the outside and remaining open to them, only by being given over to the service of what is other than itself, can man's spirit lay claim to a being of its own. --Balthasar, Theo-Logic: The Truth of the World

More puppy love:

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Being Without Whom You Are Not Real

James notes that "Existence is bound up with being 'this,' but not all things are 'this' in the same way. If you have a man and a granite block in front of you, the granite has an indifference to being 'this' that the man does not share. The shape of the granite is accidental, and to cut it in half only makes an accidental difference in what you have. Not so with the man. The shape of a man arises from something interior to the man in a way that the shape of granite does not."

Bob replied that "It seems that the granite block doesn’t really have being -- or real being -- in the absence of the subject for whom it is real, otherwise it’s just a pattern of atomic activity with no necessary boundaries between it and everything else. Which leads to the question: who/what/where is the being without which I am not real?"

My point was that a material object only really exists for a subject, existence being synonymous with "definition," or "boundaries." In other words, something cannot exist unless it is in some way separate and distinct from everything else. But only a subject can define, bound, and delineate. Again, until there is a subject, there is only a vast sea of quantum energy.

For example, try to imagine what the cosmos "looked like" prior to a living being seeing it. Obviously, it didn't look like anything. It's a purely meaningless exercise, because sight is a property of eyes and brains. Not only that, but everything depends upon perspective, and there were no perspectives prior to the emergence of life. There was only "everything at once" from "all possible perspectives," which is indistinct from nothing at all from no perspective (again since existence requires definition and boundaries).

But today we have a radically different sort of cosmos than we had 4 billion years ago, prior to the appearance of life. Now, instead of no subjects and no perspectives, we have billions upon billions of them -- every human, every animal, every insect -- each one is a window on existence with a different view. As Balthasar notes, it may be possible to know what another person knows, but it seems fundamentally impossible to know as he knows it, that is, "with the same subjectivity and by illumination of the same light."

To cite one mundane example, patients seemingly never remember what you think they will, but almost always pick up on some small point that you didn't consider important. Actually, the same thing happens with the blogging. Different people focus on entirely different points, often to the exclusion of what I considered the important one. Truly, it is a wonder that human beings can share so much truth and have so much common reality.

But what is the source of this commonality? It cannot be situated in the lower -- in multiplicity and outwardness. Rather, unity, if it is to be unity at all, must be inward and upward, toward a shared third, which is shared in intimacy -- similar to the way mother and father are brought closer together by the incredible intimacy they share with the baby, the generative "familial third" who reveals the purpose of their union. (And it doesn't have to be a baby, but the couple must surely share a common third which they mutually love, or else the relationship descends into narcissism and other problems.)

As Balthasar emphasizes -- and this is a subtle point -- "subjectivity is intimacy." He is the only other theologian -- and the only professional theologian, since I am strictly amochair -- of whom I am aware who locates the source of this intimacy in the mother-infant bond, a bond which ushers us not only into the world of the Other and therefore ourself, but into the intersubjective space that recreates the intimate and loving triune nature of God. Please note that one only becomes subjectively real in the context of an "intimate and loving containment." This is recreated later in life, in that to "fall in love" is to again become real, or to manifest the most intimately real part of ourselves.

Of note, serious disturbances in the mother-infant bond often result in a nagging feeling that one is "not real" (because one was never adequately contained), the result being that the person attempts to "create himself" with the construction of a false self, or "as if" personality. This is much more common than you may realize. I think many of these people become actors, because it is so easy for them to be someone else. The rest become politicians.

If Balthasar doesn't directly say it, then I will: we are only irreducibly intersubjective because God is. And if we weren't intersubjective, nothing would be real, including us. For in the end -- and beginning, actually -- it is our intersubjectivity with God, or O, which allows us to participate in the Real. Which is also the eternal, but that's another story.

Here again, one of the main reasons why I despise the ideas that animate the left is that they have no idea how precious this intersubjective commonality is, what with their obnoxious doctrines of multiculturalism and moral relativism. For surely these represent a flight from truth, away from the principles that unite us at a higher level. It is actually a descent in the direction of our animal nature, in that each animal species exists in its own sealed-off world separate from the others. You and I can never even imagine what it is like to be a dog, a lizard, or a fruitfly, any more than we can imagine what the cosmos was like before the human subject.

The multiculturalist says that "all perspectives are equally valid" (and even precious), which is a huge contradiction right out the gate, because obviously the perspective that all perspectives are valid must be higher than the perspective that says they're not! And it also means that we must respect those cultures not worthy of respect, such as the Muslim world, which is 180 degrees removed from this kind of multiculturalism.

This fuels the well-known arrogance and sanctimony at the heart of the leftist, which allows them to elevate themselves above you, even while pretending to be so egalitarian and tolerant. They actually demolish the subject by making him merely an extension of the culture. They also do violence to the mystery and intimacy of being, by identifying the subject with what is most outward, i.e., race, class, gender, etc. To turn a person into a race or class is to deny his personhood.

Again, what is the real source of human unity? How does our intrinsic finiteness ever translate to what is universally true and good? How do we bridge the infinite gap between separate subjects? America's founding avatars believed they had hit upin the solution: all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Why is this so important? Because it answers the question Bob posed at the outset of this post: who/what/where is the being without which I am not real?

In other words, I am no more ontologically real than the arbitrary granite block or secular blockhead if I am not real in the light of a higher Subject who transcends, binds, and defines me.

Put it this way: either you have a reason for being here, or you do not have a reason for being here. If you do have a reason, then it cannot be located in you. In fact, even the materialist must allow this realization through the back door. For example, for the metaphysical Darwinist, your reason for being is not within yourself, but in your offspring. Your reason is to perpetuate your genes; according to Richard Dawkins, your reason is your genes.

But what is the reason for genes, especially since they do not exist in the absence of a human subject who can define them? Simple: on the Raccoon view, the reason for genes is evolution, and the reason for evolution is God, who is both its origin and end, its alpha and omega. In short, the purpose of evolution is cosmotheosis, which is a doctrine that was held by many in the early church. That is, the shocking hominization of God is at the same time the otherwise impossible divinization of man, which is in turn the sanctification and salvation of the very cosmos.

Which, if you think about it, is the opposite of the way things stood prior to the emergence of man. As I attempted to make plain in my book, what we call history is really a kind of existentially naked streak from the trees of Africa to the aBrahmanic tree of life, whose roots are aloft and branches down below. What did I say? Here it is:

"I believe that history is a chronicle of our evolutionary sprint from biology to Spirit, in which we first climb down from the trees of east Africa and then up the metaphorical Upanishadic tree.... Thus, we start our evolutionary journey 'out on a limb' and soon find ourselves 'grounded,' but eventually find a 'radical' solution to our troubling situation, arriving at the 'root' of the cosmos ('radical,' of course, comes from the latin word for 'root')."

As such, not only has the left stolen the beautiful word "liberal," but they have also misappropriated the word "radical," for there is still nothing as radical as Christianity. If you really want to see radical change, just imagine if everyone, say, in Oakland, California, had the same values as everyone in Provo, Utah. Or imagine if the so-called Palestinians had Jewish values. Or if the Chinese had American values. If that were the case, this would be as close to paradise as we can get in this vale of tears.

But would that stop the left from their perpoutual bitter complaining? Of course not. For the fact remains, this will never be paradise, but they won't rest until it is. Even if it means recreating hell over and over. Never, ever imagine that the left does not believe in God or heaven. They just displace them to Man and earth. Which is why the left is so unreal.

I think I'm done.


Coondog update -- that's her on the bottom:

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Everybody's In Show Biz

We left off with Balthasar's irrefutable observation that "The animal represents a completely new fact that radically changes the situation of epistemology: the new object is now itself a subject. The revolution that this new fact brings with it is fraught with immense consequences."

That living animals exist is obviously an empirical fact. However, the materialist necessarily treats it as any other fact, and therefore fails to appreciate its ontological and epistemological consequences, for a living cosmos can no longer be treated as a dead one and still be considered remotely "understood." Rather, it is an example of a fact that changes everything -- like, say, meeting a girl named Lola at club in old Soho and discovering almost too late that she is a he.

Or, it's like a good film that reveals a mystery at the very end that suddenly recasts everything you've been watching for the previous two hours. What was that movie.... Oh yes. The two-parter, Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring. You watch it for four hours, but don't find out what you were actually watching until the last scene. Although, let it be noted that, even of you don't make it that far, the film nevertheless has the intrinsic merit of that scene of Emmanuelle Béart prancing around naked by the mountain spring.

I wonder if the cosmos is like that? I mean, I wonder if one must get to the end in order to know the beginning? Actually, I wonder how it can't be like that. I have a feeling that this will be one of central points of the Theo-Drama, but we'll just have to wait and see. We're still in the middle of the film right now. But one reason why murder is unforgivable is that it's like someone ripping your film out of the projector, so you never get to see its end, and therefore its ultimate meaning.

Speaking of which. That reminds me. One other theologian who talks about life-as-film is Boris Mouravieff, in his Gnosis. He says that the present is actually situated outside time, which, when you think about it, makes perfect sense, otherwise we couldn't be aware of time. The idea is to lift ourselves "higher" above the river of time, so to speak, so that we can better see what's going on with our lives.

In a way, this is what psychoanalytic therapy attempts to do. Instead of just being caught up in our life and merged with the unconscious, we're going to try to "rise above" and consider it like a sort of object. It's analogous to two trains that are about to collide. The engineers in the trains can't see what's about to happen up ahead, but if you were sitting on a hill above the scene, you could "see the future" -- even though you're still in the "same place" as the two trains.

Speaking of witch and wiccan, this is what it is like for me and our trolls. I know their every move, their every line of attack, in advance. Does this mean that I am omniscient? Hardly! It just means that their life is on a train track and that they have relinquished their true vertical freedom (as opposed to horizontal license). You don't have to be sitting on a very high hill to see this.

This, of course, is the secret of God's omniscience, and how it may be reconciled with free will. That is, just as I can predict the thoughts of trolls before they occur, this does not mean that the troll doesn't still have free will, much less that I have "taken it away."

By the way, this problem is more serious in intelligent trolls than unintelligent ones, since the latter at least have the virtue of a kind of "crazy spontaneity," being that they are unable to think in any systematic way. But the most wearisome trolls combine the worst aspects of intelligence and predictability.

Anyway, Mouravieff writes that the present is analogous to a kind of "slot" through which we view the film of life. The present has no measure -- again, it is outside time -- but the slot does. In Raccoon terminology, I would express it this way: one of the fundamental purposes of a spiritual practice is to "dilate" the slot through which we live the film of our life. This dilation is none other than slack.

Some of you are no doubt struggling to understand the point, so I'll try to bring it down to concrete examples. We're all familiar with the opposite of slack -- let's just call it "stress." Stress is when you are so dragged along by the conspiracy that you have no breathing room whatsoever. It is as if there is no gap between you and the world.

Rather, you are simply a function of the latter, being dragged along in its wake. It's as if some thug has carjacked your life and tossed you out of the driver's seat, except that your sleeve gets caught in the door, so you're being dragged through the street like a rag doll.

I hate when that happens.

Many, if not most, people simply grow accustomed to this situation, as if it is natural to live in this manner. Such a person doesn't really know the present. Rather, it is as if they are living on a two dimensional line. The past is behind and the future is ahead, but there is really no present, because they are too enmeshed in the line to appreciate it.

Shocking, I realize, but you may have no idea how many human beings not only live this way, but do so by choice. It's like a life without insight, because insight can only occur as you ascend further up that hill and dilate your slot.

Sometimes it takes a kind of brutal instance of (?!) to wake up and wrench oneself out of time. I think that in the past, these kinds of "moments" were more or less ubiquitous. Disaster in one form or another was always just around the corner -- plague, famine, deadly infection, war, etc. -- so there was simply no way to comfortably assume that the present would continue indefinitely in its present predictable mode. (For those of you who have done your part to keep the Coonifesto in print, I discuss this in slightly different terms in pp. 214-216.)

Mouravieff points out that "exterior man" lives his life on that two-dimensional line. It is as if he is always in the "now," and yet, not "present." Presence is what occurs when we dilate the slot, instead of living our lives like a slot machine.

Now, speaking of gambling, life itself is a gamble, a wager that places everything on the line (or above it, to be exact). It is the first attempt by the cosmos to lift itself above the line and dilate the now. That little "hole" is again where everything takes place. It is surely the only "place" where eternity rushes into time and time returns to eternity. It is the place of meaning, of love, of beauty, you name it.

Therefore, the now is ultimately a kind of "circle of return," for which we use the symbols (↓) and (↑). Bear in mind that these occur outside time and inside eternity, at least ideally. When you pray, or meditate, or coontemplate, or engage in bloggio divina, you are really trying to "ease your way into heaven," so to speak, are you not?

And what is heaven? Well, for one thing, it's like existence seen with no slot at all. Or, it's like taking off a tight pair of shoes. I forget which.

In any event, as we proceed on The Way, one of the first fruits will be this dilation of time which opens onto the real present, or more precisely, presence, for there is no real present in the absence of presence or presence of absence. Obviously you have to at least be here in order to be here. As a therapist, I cannot begin to tell you how many people aren't actually here at all. If they were here, they wouldn't be here in therapy.

Here's the bottom line. When you start out on the path, your life is a bad B-movie, in which you are the star. But you want to change this into a Be movie. As Mouravieff explains, "Each human being, then, is born with his own particular film." But exterior man never really sees the film, because he's too much a part of it.

The "second birth" is none other than an escape from "bondage to the film" and entrance into "the domain of redemption." This is when you recognize your membership in the Scattered Brotherhood of the Transdimensional Raccoons, and go from being merely "anthropoid" to true anthropos, i.e., Pontifical Man, the vertical cosmic ladder out of the otherwise oppressive dope opera of the now.

The latter folks are "the dead who, in the words of Jesus, 'believe themselves to be alive.' Esoteric evolution starts when man... proves capable of breaking the circle and transforming it into an ascending spiral" (Mouravieff). Of course, other factors come into play -- grace, the recognition and assimilation of 'B' influences, assistance from other members of the Scattered Brotherhood, etc.

Well, my slot is contracting. See you tomorrow in the balcony!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Postmodern Man: The Eunuch at Every Wedding, the Corpse at Every Birth

Schuon talks about the "metaphysical transparency" of the world -- the fact that something from the other side of being always "spills over" to our side.

Which only proves that human beings aren't solely on this side of the ontological divide, but have a foot in each realm. If this weren't true, then we would have no access at all to transcendental truth, beauty, or love. For surely, to know the truth of something is to know the truth of what isn't there in what appears to be. In other words, truth -- including scientific truth -- is the reality behind appearances. Ultimately it is the vertical in the horizontal.

Balthasar says what amounts to the same thing in describing the relationship between finite and infinite: "infinity truly becomes visible in its appearance as the excess that does not become visible; it is unveiled as what remains veiled; it is made known as the ineliminable mystery of being." Thus, "the truth of any being will always be infinitely richer and greater than the knower is capable of grasping."

Truth, love, beauty, mystery, unity -- these are all "excess" qualities that are left over after any "complete" materialistic account of the world.

Or, to put it another way, if one could somehow successfully undertake the cremation of these qualities, one will have only succeeded in placing man in a cosmic tomb and therefore painting onesoaf into a funereal coroner.

No. Man is upright and he is bipedal; upright because he spans all of the vertical degrees of being; bipedal because he has a foot in both realms, the worldly and the celestial, heaven and earth, slack and conspiracy. He is not a dead man walking to his own godless wake, but a live man waking to his own walk with God.

Now, speaking of waking, something exceedingly mysterious occurred in the cosmos and Cosmos when it segued 3.85 billion years ago from chapter one to chapter two -- that is, when it suddenly "came alive." I did my level best to capture this ontological mutation in pp. 55-65, but try as one might, it seems that words are never sufficient to convey the weirdness of it all.

In order to feel one's way into it this topic, it helps if one is somewhat "psychotic" within a context of sanity. That is, the psychotic person specifically cannot take for granted what others do. For him, every waking moment is a calamitous novelty. For jaded postmodern man, the world is "too dead." But for psychotic man, it is "too alive."

And yet, this is apparently how it was for premodern -- and especially prehistorical -- man. As Hans Jonas argues in The Phenomenon of Life, the "discovery" of a non-living cosmos is a very late one. Rather, for primordial man, life was the general rule, death the exception, the very thing that Lucy and her astoneaged friends needed to 'splain.

When "man became man," it coincided with the perception that life was "everywhere" (i.e., animism), and that "being" was synonymous with "being alive": "Soul flooded the whole of existence and encountered itself in all things. Bare matter, that is, truly inanimate, 'dead' matter, was yet to be discovered -- as indeed its concept, so familiar to us, is anything but obvious." In fact, "that the world is alive is really the most natural view, and largely supported by prima-facie evidence" (Jonas).

This is especially true if one imagines the creepycrawly environmental surroundings in which early man evolved. Life was truly everywhere, and even what was outwardly "inanimate" was "so intimately interwined with the dynamics of life that it seem[ed] to share its nature." It could never have occurred to early man "that life might be a side issue in the universe, not its pervading rule."

Therefore, "to such an extent that life is accepted as the primary state of things, death looms as the disturbing mystery." Interestingly, "before there was wonder at the miracle of life, there was wonder about death and what it might mean" (ibid). In any event, since life was experienced as the reality, death had to either be unreality or else a part of the larger cosmic economy of life.

It is only with modernity that this perspective is reversed, so that death becomes "the natural thing, life the problem." Now that the universe is regarded as a kind of lifeless machine, life becomes a huge conceptual problem, because it must somehow be explained in terms of the lifeless. Could this attitude be one of the metaphysical tributaries to the death culture of the radical secular left? Jonas implies as much: "Our thinking today is under the ontological dominance of death."

I apologize. I'm just thinking out loud here, going wherever my mind leads. But if you think about funeral rites -- which obviously reach way back and down into man's essence, both historically and ontologically, the purpose they serve is to emphasize the continuity of life despite outward appearances. But in the upside-down cosmos of postmodernity, the real "funeral" would have to be for existence itself.

And one doesn't have to read too many existential writers -- e.g., Sartre, Camus, Kafka -- before one realizes that they really do regard life in this deeply pessimystic way -- as a plague or prison with no exit in which human insects are thrown upon birth, and from which we are then nauseatingly alienated once we realize that this is indeed our fate. Just the other day, some profoundly sick feminists celebrated "abortion pride" day. But why not? If our life is just an absurd and meaningless prison house, then surely abortion is a mercy. Why not nip it in the bud?

In my book, I attempted to restore man to his cosmic place, not by returning to premodernity (as fundamentalists attempt to do), but by sailing through modernity and postmodernity, into the world awaiting us beyond them. And what lies beyond them is located back at man's beginning, only now it is as if, from our privileged metahistorical vantage point, we can know the place for the first time.

Jonas was surely converging upon the same Raccoon attractor when he wrote, "Perhaps, rightly understood, man is after all the measure of all things -- not indeed through the legislation of his reason but through the exemplar of his psychophysiological totality which represents the maximum of concrete ontological completeness known to us: a completeness from which, reductively, the species of being may have to be determined by way of progressive subtraction down to the minimum of bare elementary matter."

The irony of this -- as alluded to by Balthasar above -- is that the scientistic "intelligibilty" of life is purchased at the price of a kind of ontological death, which surely includes death of the intellect to whom it was intelligible. In other words, there is a "way of knowing" that ultimately reduces to unintelligibility and death if faithful to its first cadaverous principles. But we already knew this, for it was first taught in paradise by the archetypal opposite of "upright bipedal" man, that is, the downright nopedal snake.

The animal represents a completely new fact that radically changes the situation of epistemology: the new object is now itself a subject. The revolution that this new fact brings with it is fraught with immense consequences (Theo-Logic: The Truth of the World).

We'll have to get further into some of those consequences tomorrow.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Surfing the Eternal Waves of Novelty to the Sands of Time

Okay, back on our heads. I believe we were discussing the freedom of the object -- which in itself is a shocking idea, since we usually think of all the freedom residing in the subject, if indeed we acknowledge spiritual freedom to begin with (for freedom can only have a spiritual source). However, the infinite plenitude of the object world reminds me of something I once read on the back of a Sinatra album, by the King of Cosmically Bad Liner Notes, Stan Cornyn.

Wow. Speaking of "infinite plenitude," the internet is an amazing place. In a matter of seconds, I actually tracked down the exact quote I was thinking of: Sinatra "leans into the front end of 'Strangers' and starts singing all the way to 'The End.' And there's no chop-choppy phrasing along the way. No dit-dit-dit. It comes out mmmmmmmmm all the way. If he runs out of gas on a phrase, which is a very rare bird for the man, then he runs out of gas two-and-a-half miles after anybody else would. He sings like he's got an extra tank of Texaco in his tummy."

That's the point I'm driving at: that the object world always appears before us as if it's got "an extra tank of Texaco in its tummy." For example, we know when we look at the world that "the possibilities of life are infinitely more abundant than what is actually on display.... There is an incomprehensible prodigality in the very essence of life." I remember something Whitehead said along similar lines, that out of the infinite pool of possibilities, only a relative few undergo the formality of becoming.

Of course, the higher up the ladder we ascend, the more this becomes apparent. For example, one of our unavoidable existential "owies" is that a single lifetime could never be sufficient to actualize all that is latent within us. This is a very odd situation that should be noticed by more people, but I think the problem is that most people foreclose their infinite potential so early in life, that they don't really feel the sting in the manner I'm talking about here.

Then again, it would be Raccoon error to dwell on this inherent "lack," because life could never appear as rich as it does if it weren't floating atop by this infinite sea of potential. Rather, just consider the alternative. Imagine if existence were as simple as imagined by the metaphysical Darwinist or bonehead atheist, deprived of its intrinsic mystery. What a boring life!

As Swami Kahuna said, we cannot stop the ceaseless waves of novelty, but we can learn to surf them. And I believe this is one of the purposes of a valid spiritual practice -- not to sit safely on the shore like the village atheist, nor to drown in the ocean like the non-dual mystic, but to ride those waves of novelty all the way to the end of the line, which is none other than O-->(n).

As Balthasar expresses it, we cannot look at the reality of undeveloped possibilities as "a realm of limitation and poverty." Rather, "the very purpose of this fullness in the womb of life is to illustrate life's richness and superabundance. It would betoken the poverty of being, and ultimately of the Creator, if everything possible were also actual."

Imagine the horror! Some musician might come along and write the last song! Or a poet might compose the last poem! "That's it. We've run out of songs and poems." But that can never happen. This is obviously a mercy, not a privation. Existence is a gift that keeps giving -- although there are obviously people who specialize in "realizing" this, e.g., true artists and other creative types.

Which I think is why we often inappropriately idealize artists, who seem to live on that shoreline between the the infinite potential and the finite actuality. This is the "dream world," or to be precise, the world where the dreamer transforms O into (n). It is also the world of childhood, of their innocent natural mysticism.

In turn, the purpose of a secular education is to crush this natural mysticism and to replace the infinite world with their cold and godless abstractions. Then, once the soul is sufficiently materialized, it vainly searches for the "missing infinity," i.e., O, in the outer world. Thus is born every spiritual perversion from leftism, to scientism, to liberation theology, to environmental hysteria, to you name it. It is the elevation of Ø to O.

However, it is not exactly correct to say that the infinite cannot be found in the finite, for in truth, that is the only place it can be found, just as it is impossible to locate essence in the absence of form. Rather, form is precisely where you will find essence.

Thus, "the finite appearance as such is the coming to light of a certain infinity." Do you see the point? The realization of finitude is at once the "revelation of its intrinsic infinity. This infinity truly becomes visible in its appearance as the excess that does not become visible." Again, finite reality always croons as if it's got an extra tank of Texaco in its tummy.

As such, any knowledge is surrounded by a penumbra of mystery, which gives it its... tang. Again, imagine how dreadful life would be if there were some one-to-one correspondence between object and subject! Obviously, subject and object are stuck with each other until death do they part, but a statically bi-polar situation would be a marriage made in hell.

And that is no joke, for "Raccoon Hell" is a place where everything just "is what it is." But as Hegel cracked, identity is the identity of identity and non-identity, which ultimately means that you are only you because of who you're not, mainly God. Which in turn is why atheists are so boring.

In psychoanalysis we call this "non-identity" the unconscious. However, as I have mentioned before, it is incorrect to visualize it as a conscious ego floating over a a kind of unconscious ocean. Rather, it must be looked at dialectically, in that there can be no ego without an unconscious, and vice versa. They co-arise, in the way that shining a light in the dark illuminates a spot, but also "unShows" you all the darkness surrounding it. Therefore, knowledge of any kind is always surrounded on all sides by the great unKnown.

And I emphasize un-Known, because this dimension is surely "known," just not in a wideawake and cutandry way. It is this unKnowledge that allows us to tend toward a true self which isn't yet known to us. This is also the higher unKnowledge of faith, the "luminous darkness" that allows us to approach the unKnown God who will increasingly become known to us through that very link of faith-infused unKnowledge.

Well, I guess that's enough for today. I could keep writing forever and never get to the bottom or top of this Subject or object. All quoted material from Theo-Logic: The Truth of the World.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Miracles and Magic: Vertical Mojo and Horizontal Hoodoo

A Sunday repost from two years ago....

According to Tomberg, the seven miracles recorded in the Gospel of John "represent the healing of the seven principal infirmities of human nature in both individuals and groups." As such, they are "not just miracles," but "signs of the future spiritual and bodily healing processes within the human organism, which is sick as a consequence of the fall of humanity."

Joan made a truthy point when she commented that she had never gone in for "the whole 'seeking after miracles' obsession." However, like all Coons, she has "seen and experienced them," and while she doesn't "dwell on this topic as central to my faith," she observes that "you only get good results when you center on the Good. Center on the wanted results and you get bupkis."

[Hello] Dilys [wherever you are] expanded upon this, writing that the realm of the miraculous cannot function "without corruption outside of the protection of a Vertically-revealed tradition, and indeed can't be plucked cleanly out of the tradition to carry away for idiosyncratic power. As Joan says, miracles are often only semi-conscious side effects of a fervent consistent illuminated devotion to the Good, the willing citizenship in what Jesus calls the kingdom of God."

Three statements come immediately to mind: 1) The kingdom of God is within [or among] you, 2) Seek ye first the kingdom, and 3) from the Gospel of Thomas, The Father's kingdom is spread all over the world, but people cannot see it.

Another way of saying this is that there is an upper vertical magic and a lower vertical magic. This is indeed a key point, for now that I think about it, my life only became a more or less non-stop magic show when I ceased living for myself and undertook the task of aligning myself with a greater reality. This is not to in any way claim that my life is extraordinary. I am sure that to most people it would look rather boring. The point is, as several people pointed put yesterday, signs and wonders are happening all the time -- i.e., the Father's kingdom is spread all over the world -- but the interventions are so subtle that we may "underlook" them, so to speak. We may also fail to notice them because we only live in one reality, and cannot see that other impoverished reality that "might have been" in the absence of the vertical influence.

Of course, it's almost too corny to point out, but this is the spiritual lesson of It's a Wonderful Life, and why even many secular children of the earth cannot help being touched by it. Here is an example of a man who spends his life selflessly aligning himself with the universal on behalf of the individual, at great personal cost. However, in his case, he is shown what might have been had he spent his life pursuing the narrow agenda of his self-interested ego.

Another way of saying it is that George is granted the boon of a clear vision of all the miracles and magic that had occurred in his life as a result of unselfishly aligning himself with the Sovereign Good. And realizing this is the greatest miracle of all, for with this realization, the magic that had always been operating in his life bursts upon him like a sudden downpour of grace. What a tragic waste of life to miss the magic that is happening all the time, for this magic is precisely what nourishes the soul and feeds the "second birth."

The same lesson is present in Dickens' Christmas Carol, in which Scrooge is first given a vision of the forces that went into exiling him from the greater reality and enclosing him in the narrow world of his bitter and envious ego. Envy and entitlement are literally forms of "reverse magic," in that they will spoil whatever they acquire. Envy may or may not help you get what you think you want, but it will also prevent you from enjoying it once you have it.

This lower vertical magic forms the basis of the leftist agenda, which is why they only become more bitter upon getting what they want. The bitterness of the left has not remitted one iota since prevailing in last November's election, because envy is an addictive way of life for them. Try listening to Randi Rhodes for five seconds. In the words of the immortal Big Joe Turner, "I believe to my soul you a devil in nylon hose." Or possibIy the great Junior Brown: "she's just venom wearin' denim, she's a copperheaded queen." I once heard Alan Watts refer to seagulls as "winged hunger." Dailykos must be "digital envy."

This is why the civil rights movement only became a perpetually angry and bitter crusade once it achieved its main goals and should have closed up shop. Indeed, this is how a moral giant such as Martin Luther King transmogrifies before our eyes into grotesque lower vertical beings such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Jeremiah Wright. Likewise, it explains how the feminist movement began cranking out creepy hybrid femen such as Hillary Clinton or Gloria Allred or Maureen Dowd after it was no longer necessary. And it surely explains the moral monsters of CAIR, a group that is completely unnecessary except to advance a truly diabolical lower vertical agenda. But all of these diverse beings have "common cause" in aligning themselves with the false universal of "coerced" or "Faustian magic."

According to Frithof Schuon, a miracle represents "an interference of the marvellous in the sensory realm." In itself, there is "nothing mysterious or problematical about it." In fact, if you consider the metaphysical structure of reality, miracles cannot not occur, since the vertical cannot not be, and the vertical takes ontological precedence over the horizontal (i.e., the vertical could never have come from the horizontal). In hermetic terms, the subtle rules the dense, and the the deeper the effect, the higher the cause. The highest cause being God, aligning ourselves with this cause should, so to speak, lift us out of the closed circle of horizontality and manifest in our own lives in terms of the "subtle ruling the dense."

Now, this is not to say that the dense -- the horizontal -- can be ever be wholly eliminated. We are not angels, which is to say, purely vertical beings. But it does mean that we can do our part to reverse the fall and restore the priority of the vertical over the horizontal. Obviously, if everyone did this -- individuals working on behalf of the universal -- we would have "heaven on earth." On the other hand, "hell on earth" is the leftist agenda of the individual being forced to work on behalf of the (false) universal. What is today, only March 29th? Most of us are still slaving away for the collective, as tax freedom day does not occur until some point in late April, when we have worked off our debt to the collective. But at least we are not Sweden, where the shackles aren't released until August.

Now, as Schuon points out, a miracle is only "supernatural" on the earthly scale, but "natural" on the cosmic scale. Furthermore, "the purpose of the miraculous phenomenon is the same as that of the Revelation which it accompanies or as a result of which, or in the shadow of which, it is produced: to elicit or to confirm faith." There are two central miracles, one "supernaturally natural," the other "naturally supernatural." Existence itself is a supernaturally natural lesson, what with its gratuitous truth and beauty coursing through its every artery as a result of being infused with the manifestly transnatural logos.

This is why the first miracle recorded in Genesis is the archetype of all others, for as our Unknown Friend says, creation ex nihilo, or out of nothing, "is the highest possible expression of magic, namely divine and cosmic magic." This is why the primordial act of creation was not so much a bang as a blossoming seed. As he says, this is "not too difficult to imagine, because each little acorn is such a 'constructive bomb' and the oak is only the visible result of the slow 'explosion' -- or blossoming out -- of this 'bomb.'" What is a butterfly but an exploded caterpillar -- or in our case, a buddhafly catarpultering out of a christalis c-coon?

Schuon points out that "the miraculous is that which is due to a direct, thus vertical intervention of a heavenly Power, and not to a horizontal progression of causality. If one extends the notion of 'nature' to all that exists, miracles too are 'natural,' but in that case words would become meaningless, as it would then be impossible to make the essential distinction between blind or unconscious causes and the supra-conscious Cause, the source of all consciousness and of all power. Scientists confuse the miraculous with the irrational and the arbitrary" (emphasis mine).

A couple of days ago we spoke of the "husk" and "kernel." The husk is there to protect the kernel, but it is possible that we can come to identify with the husk, thus defeating its purpose -- and the purpose of our lives -- by arresting the "blossoming explosion" of our true self. This blossoming -- once you begin to experience it -- is the "personal magic" that mirrors the magic of creation itsoph -- of God's unfolding, creative self-revelation. The kernel, since it is internally related to the whole, seems miraculously able to draw the people and materials it requires in order to fulfill its mission. Or as a rabbinical expression puts it, "God spends most of his time arranging meetings and marriages."

But again, this blossoming cannot be "self-willed" any more than you can will a carrot to grow, for "God gives the increase." All organic growth -- which is to say internally related change directed toward a telos -- is magic. It is the everyday magic of watching an infant change from day to day, or even of writing this blog, if I may say so. For me -- especially for me -- I am always aware that this activity is miraculous when viewed in light of the alternative Bobs I might have become and narrowly averted. "There but for the grace of God," and all that. It's a wonderful life, but only if we stop to consider the alternatives.

[And for those of you who are truly motivated, here is part 2. It's more for my benefit than yours, because I use these weekly raids on the Arkive in order to find out what's down there in that spooky place. I would still like to find the time to put together another book, which I can't do if I don't somehow get a handle on what I've already written.]

Humans may be assessed in terms of action, wisdom, and sentiment; or what they can do, what they can know, and what or whom they love (i.e., moral freedom). "Miracles" -- which is to say "signs and wonders" -- can occur on any one of these planes, although Christianity traditionally places emphasis on the last. As Paul said, there who those value wisdom and those who demand miraculous actions, "but we preach Christ crucified," which is to say the mystery of God's ultimate love for mankind.

Nevertheless, as I have written before, whatever principial truth a religion excludes or minimizes tends to return in a disguised form. Therefore, we should not be surprised that at different points, Christianity is as much a religion of divine wisdom and power as it is of love. But each must always be tempered by the others -- wisdom without love or action is merely intellectualism or solipsism, just as action without love or wisdom results either in a centripetal dispersion or a "hardening" will to power.

As Valentin Tomberg writes, love is the highest freedom, for "it is the sole element in human existence that cannot and may not be demanded. One can demand effort, veracity, honesty, obedience, the fulfillment of duties, but love may never be demanded. Love is and remains for all time a sanctuary of freedom, inaccessible to all compulsion. For this reason, the highest commandment -- 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind... and love your neighbor as yourself' -- is not a command, but a divine-human plea. For love cannot be commanded; it can only be prayed for."

This is also the American secret, for it is the one nation that is founded upon the primacy of spiritual liberty, which is to say, the possibility of genuine vertical (godly) and horizontal (neighborly) love. Just as man was not created for the sabbath but the sabbath for man, American citizens are not here to serve the state, but the state is here to nurture spiritual liberty that we may grow in love, wisdom, and compassionate action -- or goodness, truth, and beauty. At least until Obama got here.

Tomberg points out that the Gospels may be thought of as "holographic" (my word), in the sense that the events described therein are simultaneously signs, signs are teachings, teachings are events, events are parables, etc. Everything in the Gospels is at once "fact, miracle, symbol, and revelation of the truth."

There are only seven miracles described in the Gospel of John, beginning with the transformation of water into wine at the wedding in Cana, and ending with the raising of Lazarus. However, the conclusion of John points out that if every miracle attributable to Christ were to be recorded, "the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.'" Therefore, Tomberg suggests that the seven miracles of John are intended to be "archetypal," or to summarize certain categories of the miraculous -- of how humans, unlike any other beings in existence, may surpass themselves in love, wisdom, and action.

Might there also be an implicit parallel between these seven miracles and the seven primordial acts of God described in Genesis 1-2? Yes, at least according to Tomberg, who feels that there is an inverse relationship between the seven phases of creation in Genesis and the seven miracles of John. Thus, for example, the wedding at Cana somehow mirrors the seventh day of creation.

Tomberg writes that the sabbath is the day on which "created being attains the highest level of inwardness: freedom. The seventh day of creation is the 'day' of the meaning of the world." And since it is only in love that freedom is perfect, ultimately divine-human love "is the foundation, the meaning, and the purpose of the world." Real love is both the alpha and omega of existence.

If the sabbath is also the consecration of the free "union" between God and man, then a sort of "divorce" occurred as a result of the fall. Man was unfaithful to his vows, so to speak. Tomberg writes that the wedding at Cana symbolically speaks to the restoration of this union, for it seems that marriage often "begins with enthusiasm, with the 'wine' of the honeymoon period, and ends with the 'water' of routine habit."

The renewal of love is indeed a miracle, even though we rarely think about it in those terms. To put it another way, only love can renew the world, one's being, and one's wedding vows. At the wedding, Jesus not only transforms water into wine, but the second wine is even better than the first. In other words, not only does love not degenerate, but it is miraculously renewed and increased; as such, this miracle is the "sign" of the healing of marriage -- i.e., "healing in the service of restoring the marriage relationship to correspond to the divine cosmic archetype, which is the seventh day of creation."

Is it important that John 2:1 says that the wedding took place "on the third day?" Why is that seemingly random fact inserted at the outset? And when they run out of wine, it is specifically Jesus' mother who brings this message to her son. Interestingly, Jesus says something very strange, in that he immediately interprets Mary's news about the wine in symbolic terms, asking her, "what does your concern have to do with me? My hour has not yet come."

Thus -- I am hardly a Biblical scholar, so I don't know if I'm pointing out the obvious here -- the wedding on the third day clearly has resonance with the entire mission of Jesus, in which he will restore the marriage between God and man.

And again, strikingly, there are exactly six waterpots, apparently referencing the other six days of creation and the other six miracles.

Skipping ahead a bit, wine once again comes into play when Jesus' "hour has come." In John 19:28, only after he knows that "all things were accomplished," he says "I thirst." He is given some sour -- which is to say, bad -- wine, which is placed to his mouth. After receiving it, he bows his head and says, "it is finished."

What is finished? One of the soldiers pierces his side, and "blood and water come out." At Cana, water is transformed into good wine. Here, as it were, bad and sour wine -- which is to say, the hateful karma of the world -- is transformed into water and blood. In the Bible -- and in antiquity in general -- "blood" always had spiritual connotations, and was regarded as the vehicle of life, while water carries two distinct meanings.

Back to Genesis 1. On the second day of creation, God separates the upper waters -- the waters above the firmament, or heaven -- from the lower waters. In fact, heaven is placed between the upper and lower waters, as a sort of dividing line. As such -- again, curiously -- heaven is not at the "top" of creation, but is a sort of membrane between upper and lower, or superior and inferior, waters.

But clearly, Jesus seems to be able to mediate between the upper and lower waters -- to bring about their harmonious union, in which the lower is transformed into the higher, and the higher descends into and infuses the lower.

Exacly what is the sacrament of marriage? It "is an inseparable bond between a man and a woman, created by human contract and ratified by divine grace. The nature of the covenant requires that the two participants be one man and one woman" and "that they be free to marry." In the Catholic Church, "it is consent that creates marriage. Consent consists in a human act by which the partners mutually give themselves to each other. Consent must be a free act of the will of the consenting parties, free of coercion or grave external error. If freedom is lacking, the consent is invalid." Interestingly, "it is the spouses who are understood to confer marriage on each other. The spouses, as ministers of grace, naturally confer upon each other the sacrament of matrimony."

Now, back to the union of God and man. Let's think about some of the constiuent components of marriage: freedom to consent to an inseparable bond, absent any coercion; mutual surrender; male (God) and female (the soul); the parties freely choose to confer marriage upon each other, not one upon the other; and the parties become vehicles of grace for one another, through which the regenerative upper waters flow into the world, transforming water into good wine and sour wine into the upper waters of eternal life and love.

Well, that's about the best I can muster today. Bit of an incoherent mess, no? Frankly, it's surprising it doesn't happen more often. But perhaps I've left enough fragments for others to meditate upon and miraculously pull together. To turn water into wine, so to speak.

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