Friday, July 22, 2011

Brewing White Lightnin' in My Pappy's Still Point of the Turning World

When we talk about the mysterious presence of human subjects "in" the cosmos, we cannot avoid the equally mysterious presence of Truth, for it is only human subjects who are privileged to know Truth, and yet, both Truth and subjects are irreducible mysteries: "no communication of truth is devoid of mystery, for truth is never so unconcealed that no aspect of the thing is left outside the revelation" (Balthasar).

I mean, right? Sometimes I feel as if I'm just spouting common sense, only at an uncommonly high level, so to speak. You know, all the stuff that must be true in order for anything to be true.

In other words, there is the common sense of knowing not to put one's hand on a hot stove, but also the common sense of knowing that we are not omniscient, and that we are forever barred from total knowledge of anything.

And yet, we most certainly do know, and knowledge is truth unless the former is drained of all meaning. Yes, there is obviously "false knowledge," but that is another way of saying that it isn't true.

For the same reason, there can be no "neutral truth," because truth always takes sides. The only way out of this di-lemma is to adopt the approach of the left, whereby they accuse reality of being racist because it doesn't comport with Obama's policy preferences.

The stimulus worked, it's just that reality refuses to take orders from a black man. Indeed, reality is even mocking Obama by creating all the jobs in Texas and Wisconsin, meanwhile destroying liberal paradises such as California.

But the truth is that race doesn't matter, and that Truth couldn't care less about it. Only racists -- or, more usually, the people who cater to their prejudices -- give it any intrinsic significance.

What this means is that anyone who truly cares about truth is going to be a "mystic," whether he identifies himself as such or not. In fact, numberless mystics would even be offended at the charge that they are mystics -- Darwinian mystics, Marxian mystics, Keynesian mystics, etc.

But if truth necessarily conceals a mystery, there is no getting around the fact that anyone who claims to have cornered the truth is indeed a mystic (not necessarily a goodʘne mind you, but that is the subject of a different post; perhaps a better word would be "mystagogue").

Now, to penetrate the mystery is to know a truth, even though, at the same time, the higher the truth, the deeper the mystery. One might even affirm the orthoparadox that "the more you know the more you don't" -- cloud-hidden apophatic theologians would say the less you know the more you do -- but this is perhaps too obvious a bobservation to bother formulating. But it does explain how it is that the more we blog the more there is to blog about.

Again, we inhabit a sphere, only unlike those cheap Aristotelian ones, each cooncentric circle is more vast as we proceed inward, until we reach that still point at the center, which is infinite. You could call it the "still point of the turning world" or the dynamic point of the crystalized world. We prefer the latter.

Regarding this still, George Jones might have put it best when he sang

Well in North Carolina, way back in the hills
Me and my old pappy had a hand in a still
We brewed white lightnin' 'til the sun went down
Then he'd fill him a jug and he'd pass it around
Mighty, mighty pleasin, pappy's corn squeezin'
Whshhhoooh... white lightnin'

Here we see a rustic expression of elemental truths revolving around Father, Son, the hidden area of still point, and the reluxing "spirits" that are passed around between them. Note also the relation to our own Raccoon slackrament of "beer o'clock time dilation," i.e., the cosmic "tippling point."

Now, as Schuon has said, there can be no privilege higher than truth. This means that truth is even "higher" than humans, but this can be a dangerous doctrine in the hands of demagogues, since they will claim that their idiosyncratic truth is higher than you.

This was the catastrophic story of the left in the previous century, in which millions were murdered in the name of the absolute truths of communism and national socialism. Unfortunately, the leftist, despite his deep and abiding cynicism, never turns it toward his own doctrine, so he alway has a certain irony-deficiciency at the core of his being. See trolls for details, who can corrode anything except their own lies.

Truth can only be higher than humans if it doesn't originate from humans. In other words, any man-made truth, such as Marxism, by definition cannot be higher than man, only co-equal, or on the same plane. (However, the merely human immediately becomes the less than human.)

Which is why we can dismiss any truth the moment it claims to go beyond this intrinsic limitation. Another way of saying this is that either there is revelation, or there is no possibility of truth.

Go ahead, think it through. I'll wait. Ironic, is it not, that our troll claims that "the real enemy is absolute certainty"? Well, doy! Which means that the real and permanent friend is certainty of the Absolute.

Again, to know a truth is to penetrate a mystery is to ascend the cosmos. Is man more "true" than mere animals? Either this question is absurd, or it is too obvious to even bother with.

Fundamentally, in the words of Schuon, "Metaphysical truth is in the first place discernment between the Real and the unreal or the less real." Does this also mean that human beings are more "real" than rocks or plants? C'mon. Get real!

Now, the Absolute manifests in one of two ways, either as Truth or as Presence, or knowing and being, testimony and testament, but both partake of Mystery and Mister O. And this is never a "one way" process, but always an open exchange between free entities. And if that isn't true, then nothing else is.

Slept late and now I'm cutting it close. Gotta run!


Cond0010 said...

"And yet, we most certainly do know, and knowledge is truth unless the former is drained of all meaning."

Would that be Deliberate Half-Truths? Like Glo-bull Warming?

Its one thing to not have the entire truth and create a hypothesis based on facts garnered. But you are still on the path of wisdom for when you come across a Truth that refutes that Hypothesis, you discard the hypothesis of that supposed reality and try another with that new found knowledge of reality part of the whole.

Half Truths are the _deliberate_ ignoring of certain Truths to shape and mold a hypothesis to the liking of whatever agenda the idealogue is trying to make. Extreme versions of Half Truths can be nearlyu anything your imagination desires to fit a certain agenda. you could prove the world is flat, the moon is made of cheese and that socialism is really a great idea.

When there is deliberate concealment of the full Truth, then it would fit under the category of false knowledge?

"the real enemy is absolute certainty"

Haha ... tell that to an atheist. :)

Rick said...

O some good jokes in this post!


"Now, to penetrate the mystery is to know a truth..."

...and to know the truth is to be impenetrable."

See Jesus -- who was beaten on the outside but never on the inside.

Also, as in, when falsely accused, such and such attacks should bounce off you like bullsh*ts off of Superman's chest.

ge said...

more GJones!
wait til last verse
[shades of Memphis]

she's mine

Van said...

Ha! The flyin' Bass Player pic is back!

I swear, out of the decade of the 80's I spent doing that, probably a total of 2 years was spent off the ground.

Ok, now on to reading the title of the post, and hopefully the post too....

julie said...

...[W]e are forever barred from total knowledge of anything.

And yet, we most certainly do know, and knowledge is truth unless the former is drained of all meaning.

This goes for knowledge of people as well. Of course we can never really know someone; heck, most of us never get to know ourselves nearly as well as we think, much less anyone else. Nonetheless, it is possible to know someone enough - enough to like or dislike, enough to resOnate or resoundingly thud, enough for all the rest of the emotions to play their part in the drama of the cosmos.

And like any knowledge, it's always something of a shock on those occasions we discover we were wrong.

mushroom said...


I'll be looking forward to that one.

That is kind of funny how "anyone" sort of automatically knows he or she doesn't know everything. Now with so much technology it's easy to say we don't know about QM or calculus. But how did a handfull of low-tech hunter-gatherers figure it out?

On a side note I have the same haircut as the Possum had back then, except mine's mostly white.

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, but do you have the exotic dance moves of the guy on the left?

julie said...

"Exotic," huh? I guess that's one way to describe it...

Gagdad Bob said...

Speaking of his unfunkiness, it is impossible to imagine American culture without the contribution of blacks. One more reason why it's so condescending to give them a "month."

Gagdad Bob said...

For example, my current study of black history is of the unknown but great Sam Rivers. Been looking for that out of print box for years, but yesterday I found one used for cheap, and jumped all over it.... I love jazz that is right on the border of order and chaos.

John Lien said...

What kind of spirit you drinkin that makes you see triple all the time?

julie said...

heh - with track names like "Mellifluous Cacophany," you know it has to be right on the edge.

Gagdad Bob said...

Funny. I actually ask patients to repeat that one to assess the presence of organic brain damage. That and "aluminum linoleum."

Gagdad Bob said...

I'd love to hear Tom Brokaw take a crack at them. Or Jesse Jackson....

julie said...

That second one would be tricky if they've got a British accent...

Gagdad Bob said...

It's not even that wild a track, as one can hear from this sample. That's why I like him: free but accessible.

mushroom said...

Lord of the Cracker Dance

julie said...

Bob - Goes back to some idle observations I've been having about freedom, watching the boy make his way about with ever fewer solid boundaries. There's structure and space, within which there is literally no limit to where he can go and what he can do.

Or in musical terms, the boundaries set by the underlying chords and rhythms are a playground where the master's imagination can run riot, and yet still the notes that emerge are meaningful.

Mushroom - :D

ge said...

Amid endless choices, the sound of a Dave Holland bass line compels attention. A master of tone and rhythm, the bassist, composer, and bandleader is now in his fifth decade as a performer and his music possesses a rich and kaleidoscopic history. One of Holland’s mentors, the affably sage-like saxophonist Sam Rivers, gave him a tip once. “Sam said, ‘Don’t leave anything out—play all of it,’ ” Holland once told a radio interviewer. “That's become almost a mantra for me over the years," he says, "as I've tried to find a way to build a vehicle which lets me utilize the full spectrum which includes the tradition, playing the blues and improvising freely. I love all that music, and there's been a desire to reconcile all those areas, to make them relevant, hopefully, in a contemporary context, as one music."

i like this alvin:

Gagdad Bob said...

That's a great record. Not for beginners, however.

Gagdad Bob said...

Another great but unsung avant garde player is Booker Ervin. Straddles that edge between hard bop and something just beyond.

julie said...

Seems I'm still on the subject of kids and jazz; it occurred to me today that all people are born masters of scat. It's only when we learn to string together meaningful sentences that we forget the musical joy of impromptu syllables sung without language.

Gagdad Bob said...

Absolutely. The music of speech is definitely prior to the words, and to a large extent, if one loses the music, the words cannot bear the weight of the meaning.

I often think of this when I hear an old blues musician interviewed. They may be technically "illiterate" and unschooled musically, and yet, the music just emanates from them. They cannot help being musical.

I also think of it when I hear the great Vin Scully, whom I have been listening to call Dodgers games since I was nine years old. If you ignore the content, you can hear that his voice is always musical, for example, going up and down in pitch, and always imbued with emotion (as opposed to mere emotionality)....

Jason T. said...

Bob, I am wondering if in the days ahead--providing that the inspiration is descending in such a manner--if you might touch on the subject of the DISCOVERY of worldly truths and how they pertain to superconscious Truth.

I recently purchased a book from the bargain bin at a chain store entitled "The Visual Encyclopedia of Science." I have been reading it casually, learning different scientific principle in language and images that a 10 year old could understand. These facts have been proving incredibly helpful in linking me to the Mystery of Creation and That Which Lies Above.

For example: did you know that there are approximately a trillion atoms in a single speck of dust? Personally, this bit of information, days after reading it, still makes my heart beat a bit faster as it demonstrates the miraculous, infinite, and downright trippy proportions of the Absolute's Creation.

But it got me thinking.

Particularly, about discovery. What IS it as it pertains to the inward dimension? Each time a new particle or quark, a new element or physical process is discovered it MUST have some type of inner, transcendental correlation, especially considering the POWER such mini revelations grant us as a species.

Einstein, for instance. Here was a man who had a specific genealogy of knowledge catalogued in his brain after years of study, to which he devoted himself to making new discoveries which would then become carried on by future students as common knowledge. BUT his insights changed the world for EVERYBODY. Undoubtedly he didn't do it on his own (he was participating in the web of human history) but he did participate with his desire and free will, struggling and toiling for years in the face of a mystery until one afternoon when when the answer dawned on him. To stunning results.

Worldly truths certainly have power. And they can help one find Meaning, Knowledge, and even the tranquility of Being if one approaches them with the proper O-peness. But what does it say about the Divine that we are in the process of finding new properties within Creation that allow us to control it to a certain degree?

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Gagdad Bob said...

Often good questions are superior to any answer one could give, certainly in the space of a comment.

Gagdad Bob said...

There's a saying to the effect that one can only master nature to the extent that one obeys her. Which is kind of interesting.

mushroom said...

Vin Scully: the anti-Joe Buck. You could drive a starship on the difference. Jack Buck, conversely, was always entertaining if Shannon didn't get him too drunk.

Note to GE, because of your enlightened good taste for Jones, I'm going to give On the Road another shot.

julie said...

Oh, lordy. Pakin' the Chopra, the home game.

ge said...

[[aside to Mushroom]]
Try the Scroll! or better still DR SAX
my last reread [related] book immortalizing late-era Cassady:
Kesey's brilliant Further Inquiry

Now Kesey & Jones were Virgos....Jack & me Pisces

Cond0010 said...

"They may be technically "illiterate" and unschooled musically, and yet, the music just emanates from them."

"The music of speech is definitely prior to the words, and to a large extent, if one loses the music, the words cannot bear the weight of the meaning."


I think the writer JRR Tolkien agrees with you, Bob. Music is ... spell-binding (if its in tune with the listener)... like a musician, snake charmer, or... sorcerer. ;)

The greatest 'spellcasters' in his mythos, whether it was the Ainur (Singing at the Beginning of the World), Finrod Felegund (in his battle against Sauron at Minas Tirith), Tom Bombadil (during his banishing of the Wight) or Saruman (when he was trying to seduce Gandalf, King Theoden and the Men of Rohan), they all used a combination of words, song and poetry to confront their opponents. The lesser 'spellcasters' such as the Nazgul King (The fording of the River Bruinen, the Gates of Minas Tirith), Aragorn (Minas Tiriths House of Healing) and Malbeth the Seer (her Prophecies about the fate of the Dunadan and the undead men of the mountains), used merely words, and/or their presence, and maybe some poetry (which is quasi-musical).

Its a shame that people do not combine Music and Poetry (Hey! think Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen) with serious education. Can you imagine how pwerful an impact that would be in getting children in tune with the Truths of Life?

Fight of the Century: Keynes vs. Hayek Round Two

(yeah its more of a rapping chant, but dang.... its good. Me thinks Hayek won this battle of 'sorcery'.)

Science is to nature what 'Magic' is to the mind. :)

Cond0010 said...

"...they all used a combination of words, song and poetry to confront their opponents. "

I thin kI should rephrase this to 'Wurds, Poetry, and Song' to keep it in 'tune' with your beautiful premise of 'cosmic evolution from Matter (or existence), to Life, to Mind, and on to Spirit' where TRUTH permeates it in its entirety.

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, think of how Churchill held off Nazism for almost a couple of years with little more than the magic of speech.

I think if more people were aware of this power, they wouldn't fall for someone as vacuous as Obama. Evidently, he is regarded as this great and spellbinding orator, but I don't recall ever hearing him utter an intelligent sentence.

I think this is because in this scientistic/materialistic age, people no longer know how to understand and use rhetoric, which, in the classic sense, is an important tool to help convince people of a truth. Instead, "rhetoric" has devolved to mere demagoguery, so people can't tell the difference.

Cond0010 said...

..and in that respective order, too.

Cond0010 said...


Funny that yyou should mention Churchill and the cadence of his words were almost like song.

Some one else noticed that too:

RAther entertaining, I would say. :)

Gagdad Bob said...

To the second comment, Yes again. One of the working titles of the book was the Cosmic Suite, a suite having four movements, matter, life, mind and spirit. This is mentioned on pp. 22-23, where it compares the cosmos to a holographic, multidimensional musical score that may support diverse interpretations. Each of us is our own little melody sailing over and though the chords like a jazz improvisation. There is the horizontal (melody) and the vertical (chords), which may be compared to history and archetypes, respectively.

We could extend the analogy further, and say, for example, that the "ground note" of the performance is our body, while the more adventurous soloing takes place in the realms of mind and spirit. But some people just drone on and play the same notes over and over, like certain trolls.

Cond0010 said...


Or maybe it should be in this order:

'Song, Poetry and THEN Wurd'

to keep it in 'tune' with the vertical and the traslation from mind to soul.

I dunno.. your the superior 'spellcaster' in regards to truth, Bob. What seems to fit to you?

Gagdad Bob said...

Usually when we confront a duality, it is actually a complementarity. Thus, especially in a trinitarian cosmos, there is no need to reduce word and music to one or the other, for as John Lennon sang, the Word is Love.

Cond0010 said...

Ah.. you already answered my question.

Thanks Bob.

Cond0010 said...

"This is mentioned on pp. 22-23, where it compares the cosmos to a holographic, multidimensional musical score that may support diverse interpretations."

Yea... like the scietific theory of 'String Theory'

Even the Hard Sciences have music. The Music of the Spheres...

julie said...

Speaking of strings, here's a nifty video of them in action.

As to the singing, there's a good essay at Father Stephen's on The God Who SIngs )and as an aside, that icon is just gorgeous.

julie said...

(oops - I seem to be having parenthetical difficulties. Time for coffee...)

Cond0010 said...

" But some people just drone on and play the same notes over and over, like certain trolls."


From 'The music of the Ainur':

"The next Theme had a sound unlike the others before it. It began quietly amid the confusion of the Second Theme, and sounded like the rippling of soft and sweet notes. It gained power and depth over time, until two completely different songs were being made. One was filled with "immeasurable sorrow", which gave it tremendous beauty, while the other was a loud, pompous theme playing in violent opposition to it. Nevertheless, this repetitive theme could not overcome the sorrowful one, and the latter merely took the former's greatest notes and "[wove them] into its own solemn pattern...

Then Ilúvatar spoke, and he said: ‘Mighty are the Ainur, and mightiest among them is Melkor; but that he may know, and all the Ainur, that I am Ilúvatar, those things that ye have sung, I will show them forth, that ye may see what ye have done. And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.’".


I especially like the part where he says this "Nevertheless, this repetitive theme could not overcome the sorrowful one, and the latter merely took the former's greatest notes and "[wove them] into its own solemn pattern".

I think Tolkien (and you) really encapsulated a Truth that Idealogues and Demogogues (those who speak Half Truths) don't understand:

Truth transcends their Half Truths and enfolds it into its theme to make the Turht even greater INSPITE of those Heresies.

julie said...

O, indeed.

Good passage selection, Cond. As a kid I tried to read as much of Tolkien as I could, but seem to recall getting bogged down somewhere in the Silmarillion, and that was the end of that.

Now that I have a little more perspective, I wonder if it would be worth a second look?

Cond0010 said...

Thank you, Julie.

I loved it as much as I loved mythology/Faerie-Tales and read it over and over and over along with the classic stories about Zeus and Athena and Aseops Fables.

Cond0010 said...

Julie... the link to the essay "The God Who sings" goes to the same link as the guitar strings resonance seen through the shutter speed of a camera.

Could you point out the specific essay, Julie?

Cond0010 said...

Nice compliment to my String Ducky video, Julie. :)

julie said...

Oops - sorry! As mentioned before, I hadn't had coffee yet.

Here's that link. (I promise it's the right one this time!)

Gagdad Bob said...

Add a member to Club 27.

julie said...

Oh, that's sad. I always had a small hope that one day she'd sort herself out, even though as bad as her problems were it seemed unlikely.

Gagdad Bob said...

Guess Smoov couldn't save her.

Cond0010 said...

Amy Winehouse was a real mess, wasn't she?

Proof that understanding how to make entertaining Music is Lore and not Knowledge (an understnding of the contours of the human animal mind vs Truth)

Magnus Itland said...

"No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness." -Aristotle, as quoted by Seneca the Younger.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Bravo Zulu Bob!
Outstanding post!

"For the same reason, there can be no "neutral truth," because truth always takes sides."

Indeed! It only helps leftists when the self-described "In-dependents" and "Moderates" say a compromise between leftism and conservatism is preferrable to either.

Because truth can never compromise.

That's what's so insidious about compromises the truth like a tumor, cancer or AIDS until it means what they want it to mean rendering our immune systems null n' void.

It only takes so many compromises for the pestilence of leftism to thrive.

Thus even the "neutral" fence straddling jellyfish takes sides.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Now, the Absolute manifests in one of two ways, either as Truth or as Presence, or knowing and being, testimony and testament..."

There will be a test, one way or 'nother. And it's not multiple cult-choice. :^)

ge said...

Hoosiernorm said...

Having nothing really valid to add to this I will simply deposit Kipling

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Rudyard Kipling