Friday, November 11, 2011

Herman's Hermits and Harry's Parasites

Slept too long because I stayed up too late viewing the documentary Who is Harry Nilsson?, which I'd been wanting to see ever since I'd heard about it several years ago. It had an extremely limited run, but last I'd heard, couldn't get a distribution deal. Apparently not that much interest in someone who should be much more widely known and appreciated, but just doesn't fall into any easy category. He's sort of his own category. Anyway, the documentary is now up on You Tube in seven eight parts:

I don't know if it will be of general interest to nonHarryheads, but it does tell of a rather dramatic struggle between one's gifts and one's mind parasites. He was dealt a terrible hand in childhood, and at first it seemed as if the parasites would routinely have their way without much interference from the host, what with no interior resources to challenge their dominance.

His gifts nevertheless broke through -- which included a beautiful voice, something like a five octave range, a Brian Wilson-like ease with melody and harmony, clever and quirky lyrics, and well-developed senses of humor and the absurd -- which meant that the parasites had to redouble their efforts to the point of an outright death wish: if we cannot control this host, then we must kill him!

I haven't yet made it through episode six, but I believe he made one last stand before the mind parasites finally succeeded in vanquishing him.

On to Letter IX, The Hermit, which might very well be called Le Raccoon.

At least if memory serves. It is clearly the arcanum with which UF himself most identifies. He says that a person who is "truly young, i.e., living for an ideal," is instinctively drawn to this figure, similar to the Jungian concept of archetypal projection. In other words, the archetype of the Hermit is "within," but we must first locate it without, in order to assimilate its content into the preconceptual form within. Without the experience, the archetype will remain an empty category -- a dead letter addressed from the Self to your self.

The Hermit is "a wise and good father... who has passed through the narrow gate and who walks the hard way -- someone whom one could trust without reserve and whom one could venerate and love without limit."

The reason why there are so many false teachers is that we have an innate need for actual(ized) ones -- just as counterfeit money depends upon the existence of the real thing. But since our culture has largely -- and proudly -- severed itself from its own wisdom tradition, the Deepaks of the world rush in to fill the void. In fact, we can see that Obama is riding the waves of that same archetypal energy field.

Only in a culture that has lost its spiritual bearings could this bumbling cipher be regarded as unusually intelligent or minimally wise. For an insight into Obama's unconscious swamp, just consider the sinister minister he idealized as his own Hermit -- Reverend Wright!

Such an odious choice runs so much deeper than the question of "judgment," for what and who one loves simultaneously reveals who one is and what one shall become. A person who would expose his children to such a spiritually toxic environment is unfit to be a father, much less president. And I mean that quite literally. I cannot imagine assaulting my son's innocence in such a manner.

I am also reminded of an insightful comment by Henry Kissinger that runs counter to conventional understanding. That is, we often hear about presidents "growing into the office," but according to Kissinger, it is the opposite. That is, by the time a man runs for president, he has acquired the bulk of his intellectual capital, and if he should succeed in making it all the way to the presidency, he will simply draw upon the existing capital, not add to it.

For one thing, there is no longer any time to think, to read serious books, or to reflect. This is why Obama seems to shrink smaller and smaller with each passing month, since he didn't have much working capital to begin with -- or, more problematically, it was just the unexamined funny money of the left. And even that seems to have been given to him due to contingencies such as race.

The Hermit "possesses the gift of letting the light shine in the darkness -- this is his lamp." And here is a critical point: "he has the faculty of separating himself from the collective moods, prejudices and desires of race, nation, class and family -- the faculty of reducing to silence the cacophony of collectivism vociferating around him in order to listen to and understand the hierarchical harmony of the spheres."

This reminds me of the task of the psychoanalyst, which is to listen to the patient with "even hovering attention" -- or with the "third ear" -- in order to hear into the deeper layers of the unconscious. One must "unlisten" to the explicit in order to hear the implicit; or delve beneath the plot in order to apprehend the theme. Bion said that one must suspend memory, desire, and understanding, in order to enter a state of faith, or what Bob symbolizes in the book as the receptive and anticipatory mode of (o).

But that is not all, because if it were, we would live in a kind of bloodless idealism which Christianity specifically reconciles with flesh-and-blood reality -- or, materiality, to be precise. In other words, the Hermit unites reality with matter within his own being. Or, you could say that he embodies the ideal, or principle, in imitation of the Master himself (and in whose absence the whole innerprize would be impossible). As UF writes, the Hermit

"possesses a sense of realism which is so developed that he stands in the domain of reality... on three [feet], i.e., he advances only after having touched the ground through immediate experience and at first-hand contact without intermediaries." This is none other than 〇-->(n), or the transformation of prior reality into experience.

So the Hermit is an archetypal reflection of the good father, behind or above whom is the Father in heaven. The Hermit is a little word from our nonlocal sponsor, so to speak.

As UF says, he also represents the method of obtaining valid spiritual knowledge, in that he is able to synthesize within himself the three great antinomies with which any thinking man is confronted, and which any efficacious philosophy must reconcile. These are the complementary pairs of 1) idealism <---> realism; 2) realism <---> nominalism; and 3) faith <---> empirical science.

I remember that when I first read this chapter, I finally appreciated the intellectual and metaphysical brilliance of Christianity, and just what a profound innovation it represents, for it beautifully resolves each of these pairs in a fruitful and dynamic "marriage." I also understood why it is ever a folly to the geeks and a stumbling block to the clueless.

Consider the first antinomy, idealism <---> realism. Most philosophers come down on one side or the other of this pair. It is their first "preconceptual" thought, upon which their subsequent intellectual edifice is built. But they never justify how and why they come down on one side or the other, nor can they ever justify it, because it is totally arbitrary.

Well, not totally. Rather, it will be based upon temperament, or inclination, or just acquiescence to cultural drift, like the eternal question of boxers vs. briefs. Surely it is no coincidence that Bob prefers the "third way" of boxer briefs, for in fact, this is what Toots Mondello was referring to when he spoke of the "sacred undergarment."

Put it this way: Plato was a boxer man, Aristotle a briefs man. But can we possibly fashion a new garment out of these two, one that is both spiritually comfortable but also offers intellectual support, and is not woven of a manmade substance such as polyester?

UF writes that "the idealist (e.g. Hegel) considers everything as so many forms of thought, whilst the realist (e.g. Spencer) affirms that objects of knowledge have an existence which is independent of thought." Where have we heard this before?

Yes. This is surely what Bob was referring to on Page the 26, where he asks, "Where in the world do we begin? Do we have any right to assume that the universe is even intelligible?... Of course we should start our enquiry with the 'facts,' but what exactly is a fact? Which end is up? In other words, do we start with the objects of thought or the subject who apprehends them? And just what is the relationship between apparently 'external' objects and the consciousness that is able to cognize them? Any fact we consider presupposes a subject who has selected this fact out of an infinite sea of possibilities, so any conceivable fact arises simultaneously with a subjective co-creator of that fact."

In the case of realism, "it is the world which bears the word and it is the human intellect which listens." But in the case of idealism, "it is the intellect which bears the word and it is the world which is its reflection" (MOTT).

Who is right? Boxers or briefs?

"Let us not prostrate ourselves either before the world or before the intellect, but let us prostrate ourselves in adoration of the common source of both the world and the intellect -- God: God whose Word is at one and the same time the 'true light that enlightens every man coming into the world' and the creator of the world -- 'all things were made through him, and nothing that was made was made without him" (MOTT).

The source of both world and intellect is the Word, or Logos, "whose objective manifestation is the world of prototypes underlying the phenomenal world, and whose subjective manifestation is the light or prototype of human intelligence." You see, the universe meets in the middle of the monkey, and you are the monkey in the middle of it all.

This formula resolves many philosophical pickles and arms us against many potential falls. For example, our scientistic jester would presumably say that a random contingency which can have no ultimate reality in his system -- the human subject -- is able to affirm valid knowledge of reality, which, as soon as one actually thinks about it, makes no sense.

Therefore, one must not think in order to continue believing it; or else engage in counterfeit thought. But why bother thinking anyway, since the subject isn't really real?

Nor could objects be really real, in the sense that we couldn't really know them. Not really. Rather, we would be trapped in Kant's phenomenal world -- ultimately just our own nervous system -- with no access to the noumenal. But with the Hermit's approach, both objects and the subject who knows them become really real, since they become real in the Word. In turn, assimilating this reality into the Word is to "redeem the world."

*For those who don't know, the "Herman" in the title refers to one of our founders, Herman Hildebrand.

To be continued....


julie said...

So the Hermit is an archetypal reflection of the good father,

Speaking of which...

Wazoo said...

Don't forget to re-set your clocks one hour sideways today.

There is a new dimension, "Holen" that has entered our universe.

So, up, down, right, left, now, then, and "holena, holay, holix, holanda" which refer to the right, left, up and down positions of time.

Enjoy this new playground. You may pursue at least four careers at once. Bracing.

Rick said...

All this time I thought Mott the Hermit was a band in the seventies.

Rick said...

This post looks great but haven't finished it. Gotta run. Been calibrating me funny bone all morning. Going to see Pope Standup the First (aka Bill Cosby) tonight.

Rabbi Jerry Seinfield approved this message.

julie said...

Awesome! I love Bill Cosby; hope it's a good show :)

Gabe Ruth said...

Julie, you really need to put a warning up before a video like that. Some of us still harbor immature notions about what crying says about a man.

This post reminded me first of an idea from the Theology of the Body, that Joseph, as Jesus' adoptive father on Earth, is the archetype for all fathers. He modeled earthly fatherhood in a way a biological father cannot.

Then I was reminded of a story from Scott Hahn. He was scheduled to have a debate with an Islamic scholar, and met with him for lunch a few weeks in advance. In conversation, Dr. Hahn referred to God as Father, and the scholar was deeply offended and they ended up canceling the debate. The genius of Christianity is demonstrated right there. In calling Him Father, we are not engaging limiting anthropomorphism. We are identifying Him as the model, the root of all fathers, and indicating the importance of that role on Earth.

I was speaking with my father recently about Brave New World. I haven't read it, but when he described the attitude of that future dystopia to fatherhood, it didn't matter. I recognized it, for we live there now. And the results are just beginning to come in.

julie said...

Gabe - yes, to all of that, and well said.

Guess I should have mentioned the tear-factor :)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Such an odious choice runs so much deeper than the question of "judgment," for what and who one loves simultaneously reveals who one is and what one shall become."

Aye. That's when I realized it was worse than I thought (that our culture, or to be more accurate, that so many in our culture had lost their spiritual bearings).

That so many could brush off Obama's spiritual advisor of 20 plus years for the leftist lie of "just an associate" that had no influence over who Obama is (or the soundness of his judgement) was/is troubling to say the least.

In fact, every one of his "associates" (friends, mentors, etc.) were as radically left wing and twisted as one could find.

So it was no wonder voters accepted as truth Obama's alleged "genius" or that he was really a centrist or any number of lies designed to disguise his true idiotology and motives.
Or that so many ignored Obama's own words.

What's really tragically funny is that so many on the left don't consider Obama leftist enough.
Not for want of trying.

I reckon those very same leftists also don't comprehend that the President doesn't wield the power of a dictator (again, not for want of trying).

Obama adored Wright so it's no surprise he's a racist hypocrite who hates rich folks (except for leftist rich folks).

IOW's the only one's who are surprised about anything Obama has done are the one's who completely ignored everyone and everything Obama said he loved and showed that he loved.

Skully said...

"Surely it is no coincidence that Bob prefers the "third way" of boxer briefs, for in fact, this is what Toots Mondello was referring to when he spoke of the "sacred undergarment.""

Ha ha! Always good to have that third choice.

Like the "less filling and "tastes great" grog light argument.
Hey, it can be both and more!

Van said...

"Such an odious choice runs so much deeper than the question of "judgment," for what and who one loves simultaneously reveals who one is and what one shall become. A person who would expose his children to such a spiritually toxic environment is unfit to be a father, much less president. And I mean that quite literally. I cannot imagine assaulting my son's innocence in such a manner. "

A spiritually toxic environment indeed. I was commenting with someone on a friends page, and this other fellow said "Like, look, I'm an avowed Socialist and I could trash these professors.", and he later admitted "To be fair, I don't actually believe in rights. I use that rhetoric because that's sort of the public space that's been created.", his admission surprised me a bit, and we've gone back and forth a little further, and then he had this to say today,

"I think falling into this rights language lets us ignore the reality: that all of society is about coercion and force. You exercise force over people all the time. There isn't anything particularly more remote than a government doing it, compossed of people who pass rules made by people."

, I had a sinking feeling, clicked on his profile, and yep, he's a teacher. Teaches World History. In Arizona, Julie. The toxic spill is spreading fast.

Van said...

Rick said "I thought Mott the Hermit was a band in the seventies..."

Nah, that's just a bunch of Hoople-ah.

julie said...

Van - re. the teacher, oh that's depressing. Reminds me of the troll a few years ago who talked about marriage as being all about power, with each partner competing for control. That may be true for some folks, but I don't think I'd call that kind of relationship a "marriage" in any true sense.

Sad. What an awful way to live, too, it leaves no room for love.

Cond0010 said...

Harry Nilsson. I was one of them who did not know who he was, but after a yootoob search I realized that I adored one of his songs:

Yea... I had my crushes as a kid.

Great voice. yea...

"He says that a person who is "truly young, i.e., living for an ideal," is instinctively drawn to this figure, similar to the Jungian concept of archetypal projection. "

Though I have posted this elsewhere, it is worthy to post again. Enjoy!

What is Youth?

Youth is not a time of life - it is a state of mind,
it is a temper of the will,
a quality of the imagination,
a vigor of the emotions,
a predominance of courage over timidity,
of the appetite for adventure over love of ease.

Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years.
People grow old only by deserting their ideals.
Years wrinkle the skin,
but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.
Worry, doubt, self-distrust,
fear and despair - these are the long,
long years that bow the head and
turn the growing spirit back to dust.

Whether they are sixteen or seventy,
there is in every being's heart
the love of wonder,
the sweet amazement at the stars
and starlike things and thoughts,
the undaunted challenge of events,
the unfailing childlike appetite
for what is to come next,
and the joy and the game of life.

You are as young as your faith,
as old as your doubt;
as young as your self-confidence,
as old as your fear,
as young as your hope,
as old as your despair.
When the wires are all down
and all the innermost core of your heart
is covered with the snows of pessimism
and the ice of cynicism,
then you are grown old indeed.

But so long as your heart receives messages
of beauty, cheer, courage, grandeur
and power from the earth,
from man and from the Infinite,
so long you are young.

Samuel Ullman.

ted said...

Deepakin the Chopra?

Cond0010 said...

Good one, Ted.

Its going on my Wall of Shame. :)

Gagdad Bob said...

Deepak is a hilarious parody of Guru Pitka.

julie said...

Ted - :D

julie said...

Interesting article here talking about the reaction of the students at Penn state as an example of a broader pattern of human behavior, which got me thinking about one of the aspects of being a hermit.

Speaking purely for myself, I can't remember the last time I was so caught up as a member of a group that I was in danger of losing my individuality or of rising up as part of a collective mass, particularly not in defense of what seems objectively indefensible.

Whatever esoterism is, it has nothing to do with inciting nor participating in riots. For that, I am deeply thankful.

Rick said...

Cosby was great. 74.
Plus, he gives us the chocolate cake!
All alone on the stage, completely at ease, he is the Old Man now. You should have seen him transform into himself at 5 begging his parents for 15 cents. And then into his parents. And then back.
My son later told me he thought he was the best story-teller he'd ever seen. Or probably ever will. I didn't tell him I was thinging the exact same words.
Seeing him up there alone, he was without category, as the Hermit has become his own telos embodied. I think the Hermit might be the archetype of all the other archetypes.

Rick said...

Also, opening for Cosby was Ramsey Lewis, a trio.

John Lien said...

Well, it was just gonna be one click but I ended up watching the whole Nilsson biopic.

He wrote that? He sang that? He hung out with those guys?

What a voice!

Unbeknownst to me, he wrote or sang much of the soundtrack of my early years.

ge said...

get yr Nilsson

an astrological insight/2: Nilsson & Macca the same sign, Gemini songsmiths....& did you know that B Wilson & Macca took birth within [48] hours of each other?

julie said...

Heh - Re. Nilsson, what John said™

Also, oddly, I thought the bit about Popeye was interesting. We had that movie when I was a kid, so I've seen it roughly half a million times. Never thought about the music, but the songs still come back to me. Awful movie, good tunes.

ge said...

someday you may thank me for
this link
to a short film whose soundtrack is the strangest cut from Nilsson/Lennon's PUSSYCATS

[it seems Lennon's voice was substituted but the 2nd character must be he]