Friday, June 17, 2011

Economics, the Gay Science

I'm under too many deadlines, so there's no time for an entirely new post. Yeah, you could say The Man's got me down, at least for the moment. But I'll be back. Large. In charge. Tights and cape shit. Winning!

However, in lieu of a new post, I've been holding in reserve this lightly soiled one from a few weeks ago, which was mysteriously disappeared from blogger only to return home to daddy a couple days later, landing among my drafts. I think it was only up for a couple of hours, so here it is:

Dismal science? How did economics ever come to acquire this pejorative appellation?

In reality, "dismal" is any discipline to which liberals affix the word "studies": e.g., Womyn's Studies, Queer Studies, Chicano Studies, Gender Studies, Hip Hop Studies, Peace Studies.

You want dismal? How about feminist economics, which combines the joyless wisdom of Marx with the penis-withering face of Gloria Allred?

It says a lot about liberals that they can reduce even the study of women to a dismal and tedious endeavor. But this is what feminism does: transform a light and beautiful cosmic mystery into a grim and oppressive political animal, a dreary cult of hectoring ex-wives.

Ironically, it says here that "dismal science" is "is an inversion of the phrase 'gay science,' meaning 'life-enhancing knowledge,' a reference to the technical skills of song and verse writing."

But the term was coined by the illiberal Thomas Carlyle, in the context of (mis)using economics to argue for the moral superiority of slavery. This is essentially a proto-Marxian stance that posits a zero-sum economy and rejects freedom because of the bad things people do with it. This results in the anti-gay and homophobic economics of the left.

I didn't always regard economics as so very gay. By now you all know the story of how I jumped or was pushed from business school, so there's no need to rerun that dismal episode. But as it so happens, one of my stumbling blocks was Economics. That and Accounting. And Finance. And Business Law. And Marketing. And Management. And eventually, showing up.

If I recall correctly, one had to complete four years of economics: Principles of Microeconomics, Statistical Methods, Money and Banking, and Macroeconomic Theory. All of this was so foreign to the Gagdad orientation -- my own truth as an economic gay man -- that I either dropped out or was suspended, depending upon whom you want to believe. Only later did I emerge from the closet and openly identify as homo economicus.

Like so many other young men, I was seduced into the lifestyle by an older gentleman I shall call "L."

L made it all seem so thrilling, even dangerous, not to mention transgressive! I remember the very first thing he told me -- that the gay science is not about numbers, statistics, and aggregates, but all about getting a little action.

Eventually I discovered that the gay science isn't even a science, at least in any straight way. For one thing, nothing about it is replicable.

But even more foundational than that is the fact that economics rests on a ground of subjectivity.

And not only that, for it is actually intersubjective, meaning that the real action of economics takes place in the transitional space between two subjects who together determine a thing's "value." There neither is nor can be intrinsic economic value. To a man dying of thirst, a glass of water is priceless. To a drowning man it is worthless.

I know what you're thinking: does this mean that everything is relative? In economics it does. In other words, when we "think economically," we cannot help but to think in terms of constantly adjusting relationships that emerge as prices, and prices are no more stable than the weather, or Keith Olbermann.

But by itself, economics cannot tell us about intrinsic or perennial value, which is why I ultimately had to break off with the older gentleman mentioned above. In other words, while there is a hierarchy of real values in the cosmos, it transcends economics for the same reason truth transcends the closed system of logic.

For beyond the sea of conventional economics is an economics that dare not speak its name. Frankly, I don't know that it has a name. Let us call it Cosmoeconomics, unless I come up with a better term before the end of this post.

Richards addresses this subject in an appendix to Money, Greed, and God, but almost as an afterthought -- like an appendix or something.

As touched on a couple of posts ago, "the creation of wealth has as much to do with spirit as with matter" (Richards). Thus, "Christians should be the first to understand this, since we know that human beings are a unique hybrid of the spiritual and the material" (ibid.).

Spirit and matter can't do much on their own. But incarnate the former in the latter, and you can really get something done down here.

The free market, which embodies the two, is, in the words of Hayek, "probably the most complex structure in the universe" (in Richards). Like anybody could know that!

That's the point -- that we know we can't know something that embodies an infinite amount of information that is dispersed throughout the system. Those who don't understand this -- who pretend to know what cannot be known -- are now called liberals.

Which is (intentionally) confusing, because that name used to go to the enlightened ones who understand this principle, not to the ignorantsia of the left who pompously presume to know the unknowable, which always results in the unthinkable.

The market is the most complex structure in the cosmos because it is constituted of billions of the second most complex structure, the human brain, all linked together.

In the anonymous bathhouse scene of the market, all of these brains are plugged into one another, engaged in the constant intercourse of processing information and making minute adjustments within the intersubjective space of value. Again, without human beings there is no value, because there is no valuing subject -- or subject with values.

"Seen in its proper light, the market order is as awe inspiring as a sunset or perfect eclipse" (Richards).

Which is a pretty dismal understatement. A sunset? C'mon, you can do better than that!

Here is what we believe: that ordered liberty is one of the means through which post-biological human evolution proceeds. It is specifically within the context of freedom and restraint that the human spirit evolves toward its proper attractor, its nonlocal origin and destiny.

In his raptured appendix, Richards reviews Hayek's argument that the market is a spontaneous order. This is surely true, but Hayek either failed to draw out the cosmic implications of this queer fact, or else simply began with materialist assumptions that inevitably result in materialist conclusions.

But materialist assumptions can turn even the most awesome sunset into the trivial side effect of an insignificant planet revolving around an anonymous star.

Obviously Hayek was on the right track -- or at least off the left one -- in writing of "the implications of the astonishing fact, revealed by economics and biology, that order generated without design can far outstrip plans men consciously contrive."

Not so fast, Fred! Is it really true that the emergence of meaningful complexity becomes unproblematic if we just dismiss it as a side effect of open systems doing what they are constrained to do, i.e., generate all this fabulous order from such unstylish chaos and rigid necessity?

That is soooo ungay!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Is Man the Problem or the Solution?

The disease or the cure? Or the very disease he pretends to cure? If so, is there an actual cure for man, or is the condition always fatal?

It seems that we are born in critical condition, and that it's all downhill from there. At best, we can manage the human condition with increasing sophistication, but not cure it. I mean, can we ever win the war on greed? Jealousy? Envy? Rage? Sloth?

One thing is certain: before the arrival of man, there were no problems in the cosmos, and therefore no solutions either. For roughly nine or ten billion of its thirteen or fourteen billion years, the cosmos was free of even the shadow of a hint of a problem, since it hadn't yet left mother nature's basement and gotten a Life.

Once matter was emancipated into life four billion years ago, one could say that there were problems -- specifically, the problem of staying alive -- but not really, since I don't think prokaryotes are conscious of being alive. No, I'm certain of it. Rather, they're like some needlessly baroque filigree on the elegant and tasteful laws of physics.

The true cosmic bar mitzvah doesn't occur until the arrival of man -- at least if we adopt a wide enough view, and regard primordial life as the metabolic bridge between nothing and everything. Prior to it: matter + law, or chance + necessity, and that's about it. Subsequent to it: everything that transcends those two, up to and including the Phenomenon of Man.

If we trancelight this into biblical terms, first there is nothing but the formless void, then separation into two. It doesn't matter what two per se; rather, it's twoness as such that counts. Thus, darkness and light, day and night, heaven and earth, man and woman, form and substance, wave and particle, inside and outside, whatever.

The point is that complements will get you everywhere, since they are all founded upon the primordial parting of the Dead Sea, and provide a way out, up, and into the Promised Land, or the Land I AM will show you. By appointment only. Do not disturb occupants. When the buyer is ready, the seller will appear.

Yesterday I wrote a spontaneous note to my future: An irony curtain has descended upon America. What I believe this means is that the above referenced division between light and dark finds roughly half the population on the wrong side of the tracks, without so much as a fig leaf of irony to conceal their futile dreams of control. But has it ever been different? I doubt it.

And while looking up the exact wording from Churchill's speech, we find the following timelessly timely truths:

"The United States stands at this time at the pinnacle of world power. It is a solemn moment for the American democracy. For with this primacy in power is also joined an awe-inspiring accountability to the future."

Accountability to the future. Is this true? To whom or to what is man accountable? As we discussed in yesterday's post, man either has transcendent obligations to the Cosmic Law, or he doesn't. Only if he has this prior obligation is he intrinsically obligated and accountable to the future generations who, from their timeless perspective, already stand in judgment of our actions today.

Now, regarding that principial division of darkness and light, we can see that from Iran to the Palestinian territories, from Harvard to Berkeley, from the White House to the foreclosed house, a vertical curtain has descended across the Continent.

On one side of that line lie the Founders, prophets, saints, heroes and defenders of liberty and virtue. This we call the sphere of Light.

On the other side is what we must call the moronosphere, and everyone there is subject, in one form or another, not only to moronic influences but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from the state-controlled media and its political arm, the DNC. These fifth columns and columnists constitute a growing challenge and peril to Christian civilization.

Please note that we are not being Manichean here, any more than it is Manichean to divide humanity into male and female, or to respect the division between man and animal, or to place a line between truth and falsehood.

Manicheanism proper is a gnostic heresy, and while there is some truth in it (as there is in most any enduring heresy), it places a false division between matter and spirit. It is dualistic, as opposed to the complementarity of Christianity, where there can be no such sundering of man's integral psychosomatic unity.

More generally, the creation itself is "good," a fact that is crowned by the appearance of the Godman who fully divinizes both matter and human nature. Yes, we are at war with the "forces of darkness," but these forces have no ultimate reality. Ahriman is always his own worst enemy.

As Ratzinger explains, man's essence "precedes all history and is never lost in history," although it is often stolen, misplaced, or foolishly bartered away.

Man is simultaneously mere "dust of the earth," and yet, in-spired with the Divine breath, i.e., mouth-to-ear resuscurrection. Thus, we embody a complementarity that spans every degree of creation, from the lowdown downdest to the toppermost of the poppermost, and everything in between.

"Human life is untouchable because it is divine property" (ibid.). Which is why we can say to the state: get off my property! (Pre-emptive memo to trolls: yes, I know, but an unborn child is not the mother's property, or we are all someone's property, to be disposed of as they please. Unlike you, we don't make up the rules.)

"Both aspects, the divine dignity of the human race and the oneness of its origin and destiny, are definitively sealed in the figure of the second Adam," who "appears with total clarity." This is the authentic humanism on our side of the cosmic divide. All of the other so-called humanisms, regardless of how seductive, are manifestly false, for they cut themselves off at the roots.

For example, if man is nothing but a random accident enjoined by nature to pointlessly reproduce, he has no dignity and no value at all. He is but a pernicious disease of matter, a compulsively driven weiner with no cure short of extinction or a one week stay in rehab.

Here again, there is truth in this heresy, as man must indeed extinguish himself and be reborn. As a consequence of our freedom, there is always this fork in the road, one way leading to life, the other to death. Way it is. Or I AM, rather.

The stream of Western man bifurcated with modernity, as civilization "passed from an affirmation of the rights of freedom, detached from any objective reference to a common truth, to the destruction of the very foundation of this freedom" (ibid.). This was conspicuously untrue of America's founders, who were spiritually mature enough to anchor our liberty in ontology, not mere existence.

And this was simply the recognition that our rights "belong to man by nature, that the state recognizes them but does not confer them, and that they belong to all human beings as they are human beings and not because of secondary characteristics that others would have the right to determine arbitrarily" (ibid).

But "it is an illusion to think that man is in complete possession of himself, that he enjoys absolute freedom." Rather, because our sacred rights are a gift, they come with an obligation; or let us say a kind of reciprocity, or an open "vertical flow."

Thus, "conscience is the capacity to be open to the call of truth, which is objective, universal, the same for all who can and must seek it. It is not isolation but communion" (ibid., emphasis mine).

This brings us back to our opening question: is man the problem or the solution?

Well, he is both and neither, depending upon how -- or through what -- one looks at it. He is a problem insofar as he severs himself from his nonlocal ground, and supposes himself to be radically free and self-sufficient, which immediately reduces him to a cosmic nothing with no possibility of meaning.

But if the creation is "good" and it is good to be human, then it is human to be good -- or, more specifically, to be the cosmic eros shot into the transcendent realms of truth, beauty, goodness, and the One.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Knowledge Inflation and the Central Bank of the Cosmos

Is there any real law that governs man as such? Or is it all just concocted by The Man under a host of pretexts, generally to legitimize his power while covering his assets?

The postmodern view -- and as always, I am trying to be perfectly fair, accurate, and insulting -- would be affirmative to the latter.

I mean, right? Isn't this one of the bases of the whole culture war? That some things are objectively good or evil? Depending upon which side one comes down upon, one is either a classical liberal conservative or an illiberal postmodern leftist.

Ironically, the postmodern fellow doesn't believe in moral absolutes, and yet, he presumably believes that it is good to believe this (otherwise, why believe it?).

In fact, I don't remember encountering one of these folkers who wasn't even a little superior and sanctimonious about it -- like a chronic troll who frankly considers us "mentally ill" for our belief in a reality that transcends nature. I once thought this way, and I well remember what it was like to have such total faith in myself. What an insopherable assoul was the Bob!

If the postmodern view is correct, then man is an intrinsically sick animal, since virtually all human beings over the past 50,000 years or so have believed in, and tried to maintain contact with, this transcendent reality we call O.

Conversely, the cult of atheism is a rather new deviation, but it's a little difficult to account for, since it must be parasitic upon the intrinsically sick animal underneath. And how does such a ghost-ridden and demon-haunted being ever give birth to the atheist messiah who shall lead it out of darkness? Why, it's some kind of immaculate conception, or like space beings from planet Nerd to the rescue!

If man-as-such is so demonstrably and persistently out of contact with reality, how could such-and-such a man ever transcend his pathetic species, and what makes modern man arrogant enough to believe that he won't be surpassed and ridiculed by the superior Man of Tomorrow? What makes such a daft and unreliable beast have such total faith in himself? Has he no sense of cosmic irony?

The Raccoon is a Man of the Future who is authorized to ridicure his detractor trailers today, in the hope that the guffah-ha! experience will release the troll from his self-generated craptivity, through which he subsists on his own excrement.

Ironically -- again -- the secular fundamentalist has a kind of dim but inverted recognition of man's fallenness. One might say that the ass is only half-full of himself in concluding that Homo religiosus is nuts. But again, that being the case, it is equivalent to saying that man is nuts, a view that we enthusiastically endorse.

Nor can man lift himself by his own buddhastraps, a la the atheist, and somehow escape his own nature. To be sure, he can make horizontal progress -- as in science and technological feats -- as he becomes increasingly conformed to the World. But a one-sided conformity to the world has its own costs, which include alienation from the vertical ground beneath our feats of clay and above our heads of rock.

But in any event, I believe we can all stipulate -- both liberal conservative and illiberal leftist alike -- that Something Ain't Right with the humans. However, in our case, we have an absolute standard whereby we are able to measure the distance between archetype and individual, between our outward appearance and our interior clueprint, between what man is and why I oughta cease being a stooge and start acting like one.

I frankly don't know where the atheist gets his model of proper humanness, or how he is able to transcend his own humanness in order to pass judgment upon man.

Actually, I do know: they just make it up. And they usually make it up based upon their feelings, since it is impossible for mere logic to prove anything outside its own initial assumptions, which lie outside the logical system.

Rather, to know truth of any kind -- whether scientific, moral or artistic -- there must exist an objective and absolute standard that is orthoparadoxically "outside" us, and yet, which "communicates" with us in an intelligible way that is conformed to our nature. Importantly, it does not mean that we may somehow possess or contain the absolute.

Rather, it is a little like money -- at least the way it is supposed to function. The value of money cannot be determined by the individual. Rather, it is supposed to be maintained by the Federal Reserve, the function of which is to see to it that a dollar remains a dollar.

In the case of rampant inflation, for example, there are too many dollars chasing too few goods, resulting in devaluation of the currency.

The identical thing occurs on the cognitive plane if there is no central truth that makes this or that fact or knowledge fungible to truth. In other words, we believe that man's ability to know reality is backed by the full faith and credit of the Central Bank of the Cosmos.

Now, if there is no such bank, then we can expect a kind of "knowledge inflation," whereby increasingly worthless information proliferates, with no real way to arbitrate between outright lies and mere bullshit.

And we will keep spending more and more for less and less, which is, not coincidentally, the crisis we face in higher education. For few things are more expensive than a liberal education at an elite university, and yet, so utterly worthless, harmful even. Not only do they not put one on the path to truth, but they blow up the bridge, salt the earth, slaughter the big chiefs, and persecute the survivors.

In a lecture called Crises of Law, Ratzinger discusses the relationship between faith and law, for the one is impossible in the absence of the other. One might even say that faith is interiorized law, while law is exteriorized faith (that's my formulation, not his).

For example, as Ratzinger explains, "Israel's liberation from Egypt did not end with the Exodus -- it only began."

Rather, "it became full reality only when Israel received a juridical ordering from God," which regulated the community both horizontally (i.e., man-to-man relations) and vertically (man-to-God). Thus, "common law is a condition of human liberty." It is the truth that sets one free, the burden that is easy, and the Joke that is Light.

Ho! By the power of Toots, I call out your mind parasites and pronounce you ridicured!

Back to the Cosmic Bank whose central location is nowhere but whose local branches are everywhere. It is not only government that is bankrupt -- and with it all the dreams and memes of the left, all of their scheming and reaming.

Rather, there is a cognitive and spiritual bankruptcy that must precede this. What I mean is that America was built by drawing upon our vast inheritance of Judeo-Christian value tucked away for future generations.

But about 75 years ago, we began spending down the capital, with predictable results. As the Chinese say, the father builds the business while the sons destroy it.

In our case, we are now completely overdrawn on our account, and have no means to back up our values. Today it's all cognitive and spiritual funny money, except that there's nothing funny about it.

A culture that doesn't cherish and protect the values it was founded upon cannot survive. Of course, most cultures have no right to exist anyway. But some have an obligation to do so, since man is always and eternally obligated to the Truth that surpasses him and lights his way.

The denigration of law is never in any way at the service of liberty but is always an instrument of dictatorship. To eliminate law is to despise man; where there is no law, there is no liberty. --Cardinal Ratzinger

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Dumbing-Down of Unbelief and the Ascent of Stupidity

In his discussion of JP II's Encyclical Fides et Ratio -- Faith and Reason -- Ratzinger expresses the doctrinaire Raccoon view that philosophy "must recover its sapient dimension as a search for the ultimate and all-encompassing meaning of life," and realize a scope of "genuinely metaphysical range."

And prior to this, it must, of course, "attest to the human capacity to know the truth," or else it can never get off the ground floor of the cosmic telovator.

Anything less than this approach prevents us from circumnavelgazing the whole existentialada, for to say that man may know anything with certitude is to say that he may potentially know everything.

To put it another way, to "know everything" is to know that the knower may know the Absolute, or know all that is knowable of its prolongation in the herebelow.

More generally, "human thought cannot stop at the level of appearance but must reach beyond appearance to being itself" (Ratzinger), or from the passing phenomena to the eternal ground. This is the only type of philosophy worthy of the name --i.e., love of wisdom -- and in the absence of which man is but a child, a Darwinian storyteller, a tenured ape.

Try as he might, man cannot renounce the perennial philosophy without compromising his manhood to a greater or lesser degree. In such a frigid spiritual climate, he inevitably suffers an existential shrinkage that prevents him from being all that he could be and should be -- and more, by George!

False philosophies are not just cosmic nul-de-slacks, but psychospiritual walls that extend as high as stupidity, but fortunately, are as weak as love. I know this sounds sentimental, but allow me to explain.

Again, Wojtyla's metaphysic does not end, but begins, in humanness. Humanness is the first principle, as it were. In this regard, he is only explicitly acknowledging the prime real estate where any philosophy and all science are privileged to dwell: in the human knower.

For to be born into the human state is to follow the realtor's eternal advice of purchasing the worst property in the best neighborhood. Life -- or the civilizing process -- consists of improving your properties.

And it is a never-ending project. We are all fixer-uppers. Some may have more superficial "curb appeal" than others, but when you actually see who lives inside, or inspect the foundation, or consider how high the roof goes, you may be in for a surprise. Conversely, some rather modest shacks can be mansions inside.

If our metaphysic begins, say, with lifeless and mindless "matter," this principle immediately redounds to the unforgiving chance and necessity which cannot get here -- to the soul -- from there -- the willfully silly nihility of inconscient whatever.

In other words, such a "philosophy" simultaneously accounts for everything and nothing, since it reduces its knower to a meaningless iteration of its own absurdity. Truly, it is just one damn thing after another.

Now "chance" and "necessity" are none other than the cosmic inversions of Infinite and Absolute, respectively, as seen through the eyes of the tenured. Living by their lightwights, we are condemned to a life that is limited to "the sterile rigidity of the law and the vulgar disorder of instinct" (Don Colacho), which are again inverted categories of Absolute and Infinite.

For just as the imaginary abstraction called "matter" bifurcates into chance and necessity, O necessarily bifurcates into Infinite and Absolute -- or Infinite because Absolute, to be precise.

How do we know this? Because we cannot not know this if we *think* about it. Just as the One cannot not be, the One cannot not be Absolute and therefore Infinite.

If you do not *think* about it, then you are merely a subject living under the Tyranny of Appearances. And this tyranny is absolute, so there! You've locked yoursoph into your own little prison, and the key is right there in your pocket -- unless you're just happy to see me. Not that there's anything wrong with it.

For to plagiaphrase The Donald, the most naive unbelievers among us believe in many things in which they do not believe they believe.

Again, this primoridial truth is going to manifest in one's philosophy, whether one wants it to or not. As we know, one can chase nature out with a pitchfork, but she will always come back with a virus. The same applies all the more to God, who can be driven out of the pitch dark but whose Light always returns, even if the splendid blind beasts of the night can only see by darkness.

Back to our first principle, the human being. If this is our first principle, we must ask: just what is a human being, anyway? Is he just a statistically unlikely arrangement of matter? A chance conglomeration of genetic accidents, a kind of glorified earth defect? A clever ape? A good dancer with a smooth line of BS?

Here we must proceed beneath man's appearance, and get down to the core. Once we do this, we will see that man is not, and could not be, any kind of simplistic "one," i.e., a self-enclosed monad.

If this were the case, then man could never have come into being, not historically, ontologically, psychologically, spiritually, or in any other way. For beneath his oneness is always a twoness, and this twoness is always simultaneously rooted in, and converging upon, a third.

Abstract? No, not at all. Rather, this should be quite experience-near, if you can remama back to when you two had a touch of infanity, and were just learning how to use your opposable brains.

When a new baby comes into the world, a new world comes into the baby, and cosmogenesis is recapitulated in his very head and heart, or mind and body -- or mindbody, to be exact. For a person is being-in-relation, and this relational being mirrors the very inner life of the Godhead.

You might say that the "medium is the message." For human beings, our medium is the prior relationality that sponsors the human subject. In all we do or say or know, we are in relationship like Sam is to Dave. We are open systems at disequilibrium with the worlds of love, truth, and beauty, which we can forever exteriorize and assimilate, import and export, give and receive, without ever "arriving" at some imaginary final stasis.

Rather, we are quite literally the gift that keeps giving, on pain of a death that keeps dying -- both literal and metaphorical, or physical and spiritual.

To not know this is to not know the answer to every question, which is, it all depends. To be "dependent" means to be in the orbit of something more or less "independent," as child to parent, appearance to reality, time to eternity, and man to God. Thus, the truly modern Independent Thinker is the very instantiation of the dumbing-down of unbelief.

A modern man is a man who forgets what man knows about man. --Don Colacho

Monday, June 13, 2011

Head First Into Christianity

Not that you need to know the back story, but my blogging tracks the movements and currents of my soul thingy in real timelessness, as it spontaneously darts about this way and that.

What this supposedly means is that I can only write about what I am preoccupied with -- or rather, what is preoccupying me -- and that I cannot "plan ahead," not even a single day. Nor can I look back, what with both hands on the plow, or I might not run into something.

This "method" has its virtues, I suppose, but renders it impossible to make any Major Announcements about the direction -- or even purpose -- of the blog. Like you, the best I can do is find out as we go along. You may be the last to know, but I'm only a few minutes ahead of you.

I do suspect or hope that the process is guided by some sort of nonlocal providence, both in the short and long term. The short term process seems more evident, even obvious, to me, because I see it happen every day.

However, as soon as one says this kind of thing, one is flirting with unbearable pomposity -- as in, "my pen is guided by the hand God!" -- when it is always meant with the utmost humility. All I can say is that it is accomplished through active surrender. We can argue over what I am surrendering to -- e.g., O, my monstrous narcissism, the collective unconscious, whatever -- but the underlying process is the same.

Last night I was laying on the couch, just like everybody else, looking at the basketball game while thinking about Pope John Paul II's cosmo-Christian spiritual anthropology. There was a commercial of some kind, showing how insanely hard the players work out between games. This is how you end up with a Dirk Nowitski or Kobe Bryant. All professional athletes have a gift, of course, but the greatest ones usually also work the hardest to develop the gift, have the highest expectations of themselves, and are always trying to improve their game at the margins in any little way possible.

This reminded me of the formidable spiritual athleticism of a Pope John Paul, whose biography I am currently reading. Here was truly an athlete for God. Now, one can, of course, pretend that God or O doesn't exist, which would make the eccentric Mr. Wojtyla an athlete of... of what? An elaborate delusion? A strange mental complex? A cosmic conspiracy theory?

If that is the case, why did he make such extraordinary progress in assimilating the delusion? How can one "progress" toward unreality? Isn't that the very definition of regression?

In mental illness, the further one is enmeshed in one's delusion, the more obviously dysfunctional one becomes. Sick individuals do not dramatically grow in the capacity to love, or acquire new skills for which one has no training or aptitude, or become more creative, or channel timeless truths in an elegant and refined manner.

Rather, everything becomes alternately more rigid and disorganized, as more and more primitive material needs to be projected outward in order to maintain the brittle delusion against the forces of reality. This is associated with a kind of frantic irritability, not the spiritual serenity of the motionless mover at the cosmic center.

The point is that it is quite evident that Karol Wojtyla manifested an unusual spiritual gift early on. The gift was unusual in both its depth and its diversity, combining spiritual attributes that are not normally present in the same individual, and often even at antipodes -- e.g., being equally comfortable in the depths of the most abstract philosophy and the depths of concrete persons, i.e., in the realms of Love and Truth (which is one reason why he could speak so intimately of the non-separateness of the two).

Wojtyla also (at least from what I can discern) seemed to work much harder at developing his gift than is typical, and moreover was singularly humble in taking no credit for any of it.

Speaking of humility, back to me. As I was saying, the short-term purpose of blogging is pretty clear to me, even if the longer term trajectory has eluded me. Where is this all going? If one were to undertake an exhumination of my buried corpus of 1,720 posts, would it reveal any larger pattern or trajectory? Is it any "closer" to the object of its attraction than it was five or six years ago? Is there less "noise" and more truth, less particularity and more universality (or at least the former in service to the latter)? Is it any deeper, or higher, or more encompassing, or is it just going in tiresome little circles, to which anytroll can attest?

Yesterday I had occasion to read an old post from 2006, because a number of sites had linked to it. I wasn't necessarily embarrassed by it, but it was definitely below current standards, not just of truth, but of depth and style. So if one considers it from a sufficiently arbitrary distance, one is able to prove that I am getting warmer, just like the globe.

I didn't intend this to be such a lengthy preramble, but it's just my way of saying that there are a couple of large subjects that have seized my inattention, and that I would like to stay with for awhile, even though I cannot promise anything to myself of all people, the Sprit blowing where it will and all. One might say that these principles are the missing key to my own preoccupations, or that they help to illuminate the point of my bobsessions.

First of all, this has emerged through a recent immersion in the works of Wojtyla and Ratzinger (I will refer to them by their pre-pope names, partly because that's when they did most of their writing, but also because I don't want to conflate this with any kind of "top-down" promulgation of a pre-cogitated magisterium, irrespective of how magisterial).

To my great surprise, both men were and are caught up in the same nonlocal attractor I find myself in. To be clear, I do not think they are in mine; rather, I have been pulled into theirs, just as they were pulled into something transcending themselves, otherwise it would not be real and true.

Anyway, two broad ideas or principles have come into focus. One would be what I might call "cosmic anthropology." Like me, Wojtyla became convinced that the human person is the most important "fact" in all of creation. By no means did he exclude physics, biology, and history from his metaphysic; to the contrary, he was in constant touch with experts from these and other disciplines. It is just that he never managed to overcome his awe over the very existence of persons, from which proceeds his belief in their intrinsic dignity, nobility, and potential greatness.

Absent this prior ground of meta-cosmic personhood, there can be no secure and inviolable ontological basis for a whole range of truths we know to be true, but could never "prove" with mere logic, e.g., the sanctity and infinite worth of the individual, the intrinsic right to religious freedom, and the a priori illegitimacy of any state that intrudes upon man's claims to truth, dignity, and justice.

The other organizing principle that has seized me could almost be the title of a book: Head First Into Christianity. I have blogged about this subject in the past, in that from my experience, most people -- Protestants and Evangelicals, anyway -- seem to come to Christianity via a kind of "emotional conversion." It is often a sudden change, and for this reason can lack a thorough penetration to all corners of the psyche. As a result, a kind of premodern, mythological belief system can exist side-by-side with the modern scientific worldview, inevitably leading to interior or exterior dissonance and lack of integration.

For example, this is why someone would use the tools of modern science to propagate a belief in literal creationism -- i.e., ironically use technology that never could have developed within a mythological framework, in order to argue for that framework.

This is not fundamentally dissimilar to, say, the Iranian mullahs who want to use the physics discovered by a Jew in order to cleanse the world of Jews once and for all. Or, more mundanely, it is analogous to leftists who deploy "tolerance" as a weapon to undermine the very Judeo-Christian civilization for which tolerance -- within reasonable limits -- is a virtue, or use Judeo-Christian appeals to morality as a means to install a premodern genocidal tyranny next door to Israel.

But in my case, I have been lead this way solely via the intellect. By no means did I begin with the principle, say, that ultimate reality incarnated in history as a man, and then go from there; rather, the converse: for me, that was and is the more or less final frontier, the last country to be colonized (which, not coincidentally, never can be, or else we would be God).

As it so happens, this is quite similar to the approach taken by Ratzinger in his Introduction to Christianity. I am almost halfway through this 359 page book, and thus far I don't remember a single reference to Jesus (or any other miracle) in the main text.

According to the index, the earliest mention is p. 196, but the main point is that Ratzinger is arguing from the bottom up and outside in, not from the dogma that can only crystalize at the end of the journey. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with an emotional acceptance of this dogma, being that its authenticity can be vouched for by various saints and mystics.

Nevertheless, not everyone is built the same way, and some of us want to place our invisible hand in the open wound at the center of our intellect.

To be continued?

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