Thursday, January 28, 2010

Everything You Wanted to Know About Kabbalah But Were Afraid to Ask

Mrs. G. doesn't actually depart until tomorrow morning, so here we are. With luck, we'll have time for another post.

Remember "Ezekiel," the raving Jewish sage from a couple of posts back? He says that there are "seven interlinked wonders" that Kabbalah conveys to the sincere seeker, the first of which is "a vision of the infinite One," the Ain Sof, and with it, the "ineffable mystery of how Creation came to be."

In a way, it's analogous to the distinction between science and philosophy of science. The former just tells you what happened, while the latter ascends to a higher meta-level and tries to account for why things happen -- or how all the happenings fit together into a larger framework.

Just so, revelation tells us what happened -- e.g., In the beginning God created -- but the Kabbalah gets into the how of it all. You could say that in the absence of the how, the human imagination is reduced to thinking that it all takes place through some kind of supernatural magic, which is one reason so many garden-variety intellectuals reject religion. While the magical worldview was sufficient for a premodern mentality, it doesn't necessarily speak to the scientistic masses or tenured barbarians.

But since imagination is precisely what so many of them lack -- or at least never develop in its higher sense -- they seem to struggle with the leap from magical thinking to metamagical thinking, the result being that they spend their lives spinning around in their little circles. Non-tenured America is in the process of rediscovering what it's like to be governed by one of these insular little circle jerks, and isn't happy about it.

For me, the Sefirot of the Kabbalah evokes the vision of the One pouring its energies down into creation like one of those Japanese pinball machines. You see, that's the Ain Sof at the top, about to drop the Ball of God into time and history. The first sefirah -- which is the top, the center, and the origin of it all -- is called Keter, or Crown.

And just to re-remind the reader, I won't pretend that any of what follows is strictly kosher by any means -- this is just me and my imagination reflecting on the images and concepts.

Anyway, the Keter is the top of the cosmic hierarchy. Once you accept the fact that the cosmos is indeed hierarchically organized (which you must do in order to accept any facts at all), then it is the work of a moment to understand that there is no hierarchy in the absence of a toppermost of the poppermost. No top, no bottom.

Which is in turn why final causation trumps the other three types of causation. In the absence of final causation, truly, nothing would work. There could be no progress, no evolution, no movement toward truth, no organization, no distinction, just the toxic horizontal goo of our debased trolls, which is the crock upon they build their church.

Humans -- specifically the psychospiritual left -- can try to throw out hierarchy with a pitchfork, but it always comes back with a vengeance (and usually in a pathological manner, e.g., the oppressively hierarchical coercion of political correctness, which is just the dark side of their phony "tolerance"). This is because man is the cosmic pontifex, the one vertical link that cuts through all the degrees of being, from matter to spirit -- or, as the Kabbalah would have it, from the Keter at the top down to the Malkhut at the bottom (and don't conflate "bottom" with "inferior" in any colloquial sense).

Now interestingly, the nonlocal vertical axis of creation extends straight from Keter to Malkhut, or from Crown to Kingdom. The latter also happens to be the divine feminine, which immediately evokes the Hindu idea of the play (or lila) of shiva and shakti, or purusha and prakriti.

In a more Western sense it evokes God and Mary, or the transcendent "seed" (or Word) implanted into the womb of matter (and please recall that matter is etymologically related to mater and matrix, the latter of which is defined as "an environment or material in which something develops").

Now, the crown also evokes the primordial or archetypal man, who is called Adam Qadmon, and who is to be distinguished from the terrestrial Adam. The way I sees it, when Adam fell, he fell from Adam Qadman, precisely. Which is why the fall is not absolutely fatal, because it obviously did no damage to the celestial prototype that is outside time and history.

Oh yes. One of the practical purposes of Kabbalah, if you will, is the "divine marriage" of Keter and Malkhut, which are again cosmic male and female. In turn, their union gives birth to various "children" that we will discuss in later posts. But let's just stipulate at this point that the command to "be fruitful and multiply" has a plain exoteric meaning, but it also conveys this esoteric point about the spiritual fruitfulness of the divine union.

Here is how Matt describes Malkhut, the divine feminine: "She is the secret of the possible, receiving the flow of emanation from above and engendering the myriad varieties of life below." The union of this above and below "is the goal of spiritual life.... Human marriage symbolizes and actualizes divine marriage," which achieves its deepest union and harmony in what Petey calls the Friday night sabootycall: "Sabbath eve is the weekly celebration of the cosmic wedding and the ideal time for human lovers to unite" (Matt).

I'll leave you with a provocative little quote by the great Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, from his classic Thirteen Petaled Rose:

The whole order of relations among the various worlds may be conceived in images of intimate engagement, a kind of sexual contact between one world and another, between one level of being and another.

Or, as Petey put it, A little metaphysical diddling between a cabbala opposites, and Mamamaya! baby makes Trinity, so all the world's an allusion.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

On Discovering the Old World and Rediscovering the New

The wilderness is not just a desert through which we wandered for forty years. It is a way of being. Even if just for a moment every now and then each day. For it is the only way to begin. --Lawrence Kushner, Honey From the Rock

Not sure if there will be any posting for a few days. Mrs. G. is going to be visiting her ailing father in Florida, so Future Leader will be remanded to my care for the duration. Between picking up pizza three times a day and letting him outside to pee, I don't think I'll have the time.

Someone asked yesterday if I can give a full racoomendation to this extremely condensed version of the Zohar that we've been discussing. I'm not yet sure. But if you're looking for a good introduction to Jewish mysticism in general, you can't do better than Lawrence Kushner, including works such as The River of Light or Honey From the Rock.

In my admittedly limited experience, the majority of books on Kabbalah tend to be either very scholarly and not written by mystical practitioners, or else they are of the vulgar new-age variety. I am quite sure there are exceptions, but I'm just not familiar enough with the terrain. Perhaps Gandalin can help us. I can say that in his suggested readings, Daniel Matt agrees that Honey From the Rock is "quite simply the easiest introduction to Jewish mysticism you can read."

And I wouldn't say "easy" in terms of being facile or simplistic. It's just that Kushner has a gift for vividly expressing the inexpressible and using words to say what mere words can't say. In reading his works, I was struck by the similarity to Meister Eckhart, not just in substance, but style and tone. And of course, one of Eckhart's main influences was Moses Maimonides, whom he held in the highest esteem and cited often.

So there is a dimension in which all of this comes together. However, I don't like to express it exactly in the manner Schuon does, because it can come off sounding a little too schematic when it's really more of a... I don't know, an "adventure in God." Kushner agrees that religions can "become ossified," so that "holy encounters" become "hopelessly encrusted by centuries of mindless repetition." The Light, of course, is still there, but buried beneath the leaves of custom and habit. "And for this reason every spiritual discovery is but a rediscovery."

That may be a good way of expressing it, because not everyone is an adventurer, and there's nothing wrong with that. Some people prefer to settle down in the mapped out and well lit territory -- to ski on the groomed slopes. A few extreme seekers prefer to venture into the ungroomed areas, but this is inherently risky, because you're plunging into the bewilderness.

In any event, the whole innerprize is much more analogous to a painting that we ourselves have to paint than a pneumagraph we can receive from someone else's darkroom.

Also, if you are to survive here, you will have to obtain your own food, and know what to eat and what to avoid. But this is where we can find a drop of spiritual nourishment in "something as mundane as a rock": "And so we eat a little and are satisfied and go on our way" for another day (Kushner).

The point is, on this adventure, there is no supply line back to the base, nor can you take many provisions with you. Rather, you must locate the essential vertimins every day, enough to get you from one day to the next. More generally, you must not only discover, but "discover the way to discover." For the discovery of discovery is the state of unknowing that precedes the knowledge -- or the hunger that precedes the food. Why eat, you'll only get hungry again? Why learn when you'll only be ignorant again? That's why.

In fact, I'm looking at Honey From the Rock right now, and the first chapter is called "The Wilderness of Preparation." Even before that, in the introduction, he expresses ideas that tell you right away that this man is a full-blooded Raccoon. For example,

"It is to begin with, all inside us. But because we are all miniature versions of the universe, it is also found far beyond." (Note right away that he strikes the correct balance between God's radical transcendence and immanence.) "And because we are all biologically and spiritually part of the first man, the place preceded us. And because we all carry within us the genotype and vision of the last man, the place foretold us."

Inside, outside, first man, last man, alpha and omega, "becoming" the self that always was and will be -- as I said, this man is a son of Toots and brother under the pelt.

Note also what Kushner says about the location of the adventure being anterior to our entrance into it: "We have all known it since before we were conceived," "so do not be confused if sometimes the place seems as real as your house or as illusory as your happiness." He notes that there is the explicit Torah that is written with black letters on white paper. But there is a hole other Torah -- and a vaster one -- in the spaces between the letters. This is again a primary locution of our off-road bewilderness adventure.

Kushner also emphasizes that the ultimate meaning of scripture is that it is your narrative. It is not just about what happened "once upon a time," but what happens every time. Again, as we mentioned yesterday, the only thing that keeps you from realizing it is a failure to take the plunge. If Moses "had your definition of spiritual, he would have remained an Egyptian too. Never entered the wilderness. For you see, we are the stories." If you want your old new self back, you first have to go to the lost & found.

About this bewilderness, the wild godhead -- it is not merely a "place" but "a way of being. A place that demands being open to the flow of life around you.... Your preconceptions cannot protect you. Your logic cannot promise you the future. Your guilt can no longer place you safely in the past." You're on your own, baby! Just like me and Future Leader, except without the pizza.

If you think you know what you will find,
Then you will find nothing.
If you expect nothing,
Then you will always be surprised.
And able to bless the One who creates the world anew each morning
--Lawrence Kushner

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On Stoking the Divine Fire and Blowing Smoke

In giving it some thought, there are some other barriers to comprehending the Kabbalah, perhaps the biggest one being the insularity of Judaism, which is there for a reason. Recall what we said the other day about "blending," and its significance to Jewish metaphysics. For a non-Jew to poke his head behind the veil and presume to understand the highest and deepest secrets of Judaism requires a kind of breathtaking presumptuousness. I guess the technical term would be chutzpah.

When you think about the taboos against mixing this and that -- e.g., meat and milk -- part of this has to do with evoking vertical recollection of the original separation. I'm pretty sure it's not just meant to be a mechanical act, but that it has multiple layers of meaning. But this is why, for example, cross-dressing would be a "sin" in Judaism, because it represents an indiscriminate mixing and undoing of the supernatural separation that God has ordained. It certainly has absolutely nothing to do with repression or prudery; to the contrary, robust sexual polarity is a key to maintaining sexual passion.

Likewise opposition to the redefinition of marriage. Another key idea in Judaism is that the unit of mankind is not man or woman, but man and woman: maleandfemale he created them. Note that the unit is not the blending of male and female, but the personal transformation that results from their dialectical play. Yes, a man's feminine side -- his anima -- is developed through this process, but a man cannot bypass or hasten the process by wearing dresses, playing with dolls, or voting Democrat.

The ultimate intent of the Law is to prolong the vertical into the horizontal by imbuing various otherwise mundane activities with the recollection of God. It's not intended to be oppressive but liberating -- liberty from bondage being another central motif of Judaism.

Indeed, when it merely becomes law emptied of spirit, I'm pretty sure something has gone wrong. I have an elderly relative by marriage who maintains a rigidly kosher home, but who couldn't be more of a cold and heartless witch. In her case, I think religious ritual has been thoroughly highjacked by mind parasites from below, so that it is merely OCD by another name. It is simply a way to manage her abundant aggression and consequent unconscious guilt.

Furthermore, mechanical discharge of the Law does not facilitate ascent through recollection, but like any other compulsion, keeps her where she is in an endless loop. It is a magical way to "undo" what the mind parasites have done.

Please note that the same thing can occur, for example, in Catholicism, when a person misuses the sacraments in order to remain the same, not to change. If they are not transformative, then something is not working as it should be -- probably due to a lack of sincerity, or a being who is riven by mind-parasites with competing agendas, about which the person has no conscious awareness.

More generally, the Raccoon view would be that the ultimate purpose of any religious ritual is to invoke, activate, and "invite" the Grace (↓). Obviously we do not create the grace, but can only try to live in such a way that we get out of its way. This dovetails with what we were discussing last week about man's role in the cosmic economy. I would put it this way: we cannot save ourselves, but we can certainly condemn ourselves (in a manner of speaking).

Now, I could very well be talking out of my yarmulke here, and if so, I will be pleased for Gandalin to smite me. I have no problem with that. I admittedly have no authority to belowviate on these elevated matters, except for the questionable authority Toots Mondello has vested in me and every other dues-paying Raccoon. The Raccoon is obviously a generalist, not a specialist. Much of what he does will appear to the uninitiated to be "blending," but it actually isn't, since it is operating from "above" not "below."

In other words, whether rightly or wrongly, we cannot help ourselves from examining the underlying principles by which a religious proposition is true (similar to how science reduces multiplicity to unity). This path is not for everyone, and in fact, it may well be for no one but me, since, while I can't help being me, you presumably can.

But assuming that I am animated by pneumacosmic principle, then the same principle should be active in at least a few others. I would certainly never attempt to proselytize my views to outsiders, as I well understand why they would be offended or indifferent. Thus, I preach only to the coonverted -- to those who, when they read my words, have that distinct sense that they are not so much learning anything new as recalling who they have always been.

Again, I have no illusions that this path is for everyone. Our Oly slackraments no doubt appear loose and lazy to outsiders, but I can assure them that it is much easier than it looks, since nothing is easier than being oneself. The hard part is becoming oneself.

One of Schuon's closest friends, Leo Schaya, wrote a book on the Kabbalah that is closer to the universalist perspective we have in mind. Of course Raccoons have our differences with the Traditionalists, but I think we can nevertheless draw some useful insights from this study. For example, Uncle Leo says that the ultimate purpose of Kabbalah is "spiritual contemplation, pure inspiration, or 'intellectual intuition.'" It endeavors to "rise above the plane of phenomena" through a plunge into the depths of the soul.

I suppose the main point is that Kabbalah can only maintain its universality by preserving its particularity -- in the same way that a man is only a "real man" to the extent that he is an individual man. One does not "become a man" by blending into some indistinct archetype, but by filling out the content of the archetype from below.

Thus, by becoming a true individual, one becomes a "mode of the infinite." In contrast, the "false individualism" of narcissism renders one a mode of the finite -- or death incarnate -- since one is severed from the source of the person, which is the metacosmic Person. It is the difference between being a mere eccentric and a true esocentric, to coin a word.

The book we are discussing begins with a foreword that tells the story of a meeting with an elderly Jewish sage who seems to be in a perpetual state of ecstatic raving about the Kabbalah. I think it's fair to say that it has become "operative" in him, and is doing what it is supposed to do -- which is to say, the Tree of Life beleafing in abundance. Again, it should not be a matter of memorizing dry or mechanical knowledge, but should facilitate a flow of vertical recollection on the soul-plane.

This man -- whom the author calls "Ezekiel" -- says that the purpose of life is "to know and experience God like a fire in the core of the core of your heart." In other words -- actually, the same words in a different order -- the idea is for your heart to be on fire with the experience of God. Then it's just a matter of properly stoking the fire and blowing a lot of smoke.

More holy smoke tomorrow....

Monday, January 25, 2010

An Ainsoferable Hodache

I've studied Kabbalah before, but I always end up getting bogged down in the alien nomenclature. Oy, would Nathan Birnbaum have been as popular if he hadn't changed his name to George Burns? Or Benjamin Kubelsky if he hadn't become Jack Benny? Someone needs to anglicize some of these terms.

So I only get so far before I can't tell my Keter from my Binah, my head from my Hod. But this book is different. Zohar, zo good, anyway. It's very crisp and concise, and leaves enough space for me to insert my own misunderstanding.

After all, the author, Daniel Matt, is in the process of translating the entire Zohar, which is an esoteric commentary on the Torah. At this point he's up to five volumes and some 3,000 pages, with more to come. I mean, the first two volumes only take you halfway through Genesis, so it's a herculean task.

Why is the Zohar important? We'll get to that later. In Matt's introduction, he points out that the Sefer ha-Zohar (its full name) -- which is the masterpiece of Jewish mysticism -- "emerged mysteriously in Spain toward the end of the thirteenth century." There is a deep connection between Kabbalah and Hermeticism, and in fact, some people (mistakenly) thought that they were the actual source of the Jewish and Christian scriptures. The idea is that Moses, who was raised an Egyptian, would have been deeply familiar with the Egyptian esotericsm of Hermes, which he incorporated into the Torah. In turn, the Zohar is a kind of mystical decoding of original hermetic message.

But in reality, the hermetica can only be traced back to the first few centuries AD, and the Zohar again appears in the 13th -- which is not to say that there couldn't have been an oral tradition prior to that. But in any event, I am not so much interested in the provenance or timing, only the truth it contains and discloses. I mean, our Constitution could have been given to us by aliens for all I care. All I know is that it's the finest political document ever produced by the divine-human partnership.

And don't forget, in the pre-scientific world, people had a very different conception of time. For one thing, it was much more qualitative, not quantitative. When someone wanted to convey the depth and seriousness of an idea, they did so by affirming its antiquity.

Thus, for example, although it turned out that Denys the Areopagite was not a contemporary of the apostle John, that hardly detracts from the brilliance of his writings. Back then, things like novelty and progress were not considered selling points. Indeed, they were pejorative. If you had said to Denys, "that's so old-fashioned," he'd say "why, thank you." And if you said, "well, that's a new way of looking at things," he'd probably have slapped your camel.

Anyway, this book I'm working on is quite concise and unsaturated. One interesting way that it forms a bridge between Judaism and Christianity is that, instead of the radical monotheism of the former, it maps out the interior of God, so to speak, which has some commonalty with the Christian Trinity, which in turn serves as a sort of bridge between us and the otherwise radical unknowability of God.

In other words, just as the Trinity tells us something about the intimate interior life of the godhead, Kabbalah purportedly reveals some other hidden dimensions that serve as the timelessly-temporal blueprint of creation. Just as there is a platonic mathematical physics that serves as the deep structure of the physical world, you might say that the Zohar reveals the deep structure -- the metaphysics -- of the immaterial world.

A key point is that this blueprint is only intended to be a clueprint for the higher imagination. Indeed, if you think of the abstract symbols I used in my book to map the spiritual adventure, it's somewhat like that. It is very much a case of "the secret protecting itself," so that it won't mean much to the uninitiated. Even if you memorized every word of it, it wouldn't mean that you had understood any of it.

Now, none of this is intended to subvert the plain meaning of the Bible. It's just that Scripture is a holographic text with multiple layers of meaning, from the literal, to the allegorical, to the symbolic, to the moral, metaphysical and mystical. None of these cancel out or deny the others. Indeed, you must forget about your aristotelian logic, in which A is always A. Rather, you must adopt the dream-logic of the symmetrical unconscious, in which A can simultaneously be A and not-A. Think of how everything in your dreams appears multiple, and yet, it is all you -- not just starring you, but produced, written, and directed by you.

So if Scripture is ultimately a holographic vertical memo from the Self to the self, so to speak, it must have at least as many dimensions as we do. We are not linear machines, so there is simply no way that Scripture can be a sort of linear instruction manual and do us any kind of justice. If you take that approach, you end up being as simple-minded as the ideological Darwinians, whose theory purchases radical consistency at the cost of a preposterous incompleteness.

Thus, as Matt reminds us, "On a deeper level, the text of the Bible is simply the starting point, a springboard for the imagination." To cite one very basic example, when God advises Abraham to "go to the land that I will show you," this also refers to the interior landscape inside us all: "Go to yourself, search deep within and thereby discover the divine."

Another example, this one more esoteric: as we all know, the first words of the Bible are In the beginning God created... But if one trancelights the words in their precise order, the Zohar suggests that they have a very different connotation: With beginning It created God.

Now, what is "It"? It is simply the top or center of it all, the Ain Sof, which you might think of as the hidden godhead or the unpronouncable name. (Ain Sof comes from Ayin, or Nothingness.)

Some Christian mystics call it "nothing," but this is not to be confused with the shunyata of Buddhism, for it is not literally nothing (or emptiness), just beyond our ability to contain it. It is the apophatic God we can't think about, in contrast to the cataphatic God we can. You might think of it as the ultimate O, from which everything intelligible flows -- even the intelligible God to whom we can "relate."

For those who get the jokes, there is quite a bit of Kabbalah in the Cosmogenesis section of my book. As a matter of fact, the Zohar itself is full of puns, wordplay, and neologisms. As always, the best cosmedians are Jewish -- for example, Albert Einstein.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Who's At Fault For the Fault Between the Fantasy and Reality of Obama?

I think I'll repost another antichrist update from last year, just because it pisses off our irony-poor trolls. But the main purpose of this verticalisthenic exercise is to gauge the accuracy of our cʘʘnvision one or two years on.

One thing that interests me -- and confirms the idea that group fantasies are very much real -- is that suddenly everyone is seeing Obama in the way we saw him from the first moment we laid three eyes on him. How can this be? Has Obama changed? Hardly. Then how to account for the distance between who Obama actually is and what people imagined he was?

One annoying reader keeps chiding me for using psychology to understand this gulf, but what is one supposed to use, physics? To the extent that there is a subjective abyss between the way things are and the way a person thinks they are, that's my bag, baby.

Here is a sample what people are only now seeing in Obama, even though there is "nothing new" here for the Raccoon:

"... [I]n this White House, there is no there there. It's all smoke and mirrors, bells and whistles, held together with glib talk, Chicago politics and an audacious sense of entitlement. At the center is a young and talented celebrity whose worldview, we now know, is an incoherent jumble of poses and big-government instincts. His self-aggrandizing ambition exceeds his ability by so much that he is making a mess of everything he touches.

"He never advances a practical idea. Every proposal overreaches and comes wrapped in ideology and a claim of moral superiority. He doesn't listen to anybody who doesn't agree with him. After his first year on the job, America is sliding backwards, into grave danger at home and around the world. So much so that I now believe either of his rivals, Hillary Clinton or John McCain, would have made a better, more reliable and more trustworthy president."

I might add that I am not engaging in any kind of "vicious attack" on anyone. For one thing, I'm talking about generally good people who have been captured by an ideology. And if you could actually see me instead of projecting all sorts of hostility into my words, you'd see that I am as calm and dispassionate as a person can be.

The plain fact of the matter is that psychology alone cannot account for the distance between fantasy and reality, not when it is this great. The XVth card of the tarot, The Devil, introduces us "to the secrets of the electrical fire and the intoxication of counter-inspiration."

But before proceeding further, let us take to heart the warning of our Unknown Friend (UF), who cautions us that "One can grasp profoundly, i.e. intuitively, only that which one loves. Love is the vital element of profound knowledge, intuitive knowledge." If you have ever wondered why true evil -- nazi evil, Islamist evil -- is so impenetrable, it is because the normal person obviously cannot love evil: "Evil is therefore unknowable in its essence. One can understand it only at a distance, as an observer of its phenomenology."

I suppose another way of saying it is that (in linguistic terms) "evil" is a signifier with no coherent signified, being that true evil represents a genuine absence -- an absence or deprivation of the Good. As such, the essence of evil is that it has no essence. It is slippery, shape-shifting, mercurial... You know what it's like to argue with it.

In turn, this is why evil is truly a "bottomless pit." It is not actually infinite, since only the Absolute can be infinite. It does, however, tend toward its own kind of "false" or "bad" infinite (in the Hegelian sense), which is why man can only rise so high but can fall and fall without ever hitting bottom, as proved by Keith Olbermann. I suppose the physics of black holes might provide a handy way to think about this negative infinity. This would be easier -- and less spiritually dangerous -- than trying to imagine, say, the bottomless darkness of the Berkeley City Council.

UF goes on to say that in comparison to the luminous worlds of the celestial hierarchy, the world of evil is more "like a luxuriant jungle, where you can certainly, if necessary, distinguish hundreds and thousands of particular plants, but where you can never attain to a clear view of the totality."

Do you know what he means? I do. It's what makes it so difficult to argue with politically deranged people, who, when you cut off one limb of their argument, just grow another. It's like a collection with no center or ordering principle, just a blob or agglomeration -- which is the opposite of the Life principle, i.e., that which organizes, unifies, and synthesizes. Dynamic wholeness is the essence of Life, which means that evil and death must be related to dispersal and fragmentation. Thus, "the world of evil is a chaotic world -- at least, such as it presents itself to the observer." (You will also have noticed that true science is impossible for such a person, because they cannot see the totality, only a collection of parts.)

Vertically speaking, order is "up," while chaos is down (although, there is a kind of paradoxical "static chaos" at the very bottom). No surprise there. In Genesis, God's first act is simply to separate. Without separation there is only the formless void of primordial chaos. If you don't understand the holiness and the sacredness of divine separation, then you don't understand anything. Yes, this separation, or duality, can be transcended, but only from above, never from below. Better to live in Holy duality than to obliterate divinely ordained distinctions out of a self-deluded belief in bogus transcendence, which is what the "new age" is all about.

As is leftism, which might just as well be called "down syndrome," being that it is rooted in the anti-divine principle of blending. For the left, In the Beginning was Order. Now, let us gleefully tear it down and blend darkness with light, the upper waters with the lower waters!

Examples are too numerous to mention, but one would have to include the obliteration of sexual differences, the trivialization of generational differences, the effacement of the distinction between knowledge and wisdom, the attack on private property, and the judicial activism which blurs the plain meaning of the Constitution; not to mention the conflation of transcendence and immanence, the satanic confusion of moral relativism, the abysmal fall into multiculturalism, and the obsession with the redistribution rather than creation of wealth. All of these trends are evil to the core, despite the paradoxical absence of a core. Again, evil is essentially without essence. It is perpetually going from nowhere to nothing, while enjoying the... what's the word, Jeeves? Yes, the frisson of the fall.

Now, just as the right kind of obedience is freedom -- for example, fidelity to Truth -- the wrong kind of freedom is slavery. According to UF, one of the subtexts of the Devil card is that of slavery, in that it depicts a man and woman bound by the neck to a much larger androgynous entity.

Interestingly, just as the union of male and female can create the miracle of a baby to raise (and who shall in turn raise them up in mysterious ways!), it seems that a false blending of their essences can engender another kind of being that shall lower them, so to speak. As UF explains, the card has to do with "the generation of demons and of the power that they have over those who generate them. It is the Arcanum of creation of artificial beings and of the slavery into which the creator can fall -- becoming a slave of his own creation." (For example, consider how Tiger Woods is a slave of this false blending.)

Let's pause here for a moment. In this regard, I can remember the precise moment when I crossed over that line from leftist back to liberal (i.e., conservative); or, to put it another way, when it was no longer possible to be on the left. I simply asked myself, "who is responsible for my existential unhappiness?" I won't go into all of the details, as that would take us down a lengthy deitour. But the point is, I realized that I was a slave of my own creation -- for example, an evil creation I called "Ronald Reagan." Of course, my creation had nothing whatsoever to do with the actual Ronald Reagan. Rather -- and this is critical -- not only was it my creation, but it was me. Just as in a dream, I was persecuted by my own elaborate production -- like the spider who lives in a web spun from its own substance.

I was reminded of this again last night in reading the liner notes to the new edition of Donald Fagen's excellent Nightfly Trilogy (nothing I'm about to say detracts from the music). As much as I appreciate Steely Dan (Becker & Fagen), like most people of their generation, their jaded cynicism does not extend to their own default moonbattery, which sits there like a kind of unexamined Holy Writ. Which it is. It is the genesis myth of the Baby Boom generation -- the idea that the evil is Out There in the Nixonian uncool ones who are oppressing us. (And which is why they imagined that the Cool One would save the planet.)

I know exactly what Fagen means when he reflects that "to a weekend hippie in the '60s," political paranoia "seemed kind of exciting." Indeed, for me, this was the appeal of a Noam Chomsky or Howard Zinn -- that they provided a kind of secret gnostic knowledge, an alternative conspiracy theory that explained everything -- why the world is so off-kilter and out of joint, and more to the point, why I was so unfulfilled. Ronald Reagan hates me!

It's one thing to think this way in the '60s. But it is rather pathetic to still think it in one's 60s, as Fagen apparently does. He's still haunted by his self-generated demons -- i.e., mind parasites -- which have now appropriated the host, as suggested in the liner notes of the dark and dystopian world of Morph the Cat, released in 2006 (especially when compared to the idealism and optimism of Nightfly). As he writes,

"Paranoia just wasn't fun anymore in the age of al Qaeda." But not because of al Qaeda! Rather, he speaks disparagingly of Republicans taking over his city (New York) at the 2002 convention, and ends his notes with the following warning: "If you see some folks who believe that spirits and ghosts and hell actually exist and they're really sure about it and they're comin' your way -- RUN!"

I couldn't agree more -- run away from those who believe in vague spirits called "change," ghosts called "Bush" or "Cheney," or the hell of Gitmo.

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