Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mary Chrysalis & the Midwinter Sun

Our nonLocal Friend next discusses the "mystery of the star" that guides us on our nighttime journey back to the Self.

If you don't realize that it is late in the day and that it is getting dark.... well, let's just say that the sun can't help you, since it will soon be halfway around the world. Daytime logic doesn't apply to dreamworld, just as dream logic doesn't illuminate the day. Well, it does, but only for specialists.

But more importantly, because there are so many stars, no one can show you yours. Just as there is a single sun that also rises on the billions, there are billions of stars, only one of which has your name on it. You cannot purchase a map to the stars from some filthy hobo on the corner, unless that filthy hobo is Cousin Dupree hawking stolen copies of my book.

We must follow our star without reserve, for "a whole world is at stake" -- the resurrected world of our interior being. This world is "there," but needs to be illuminated in order to be seen.

unKnown Friend cites the example of Jung, with whom I have some problems, but who nevertheless, it is true, followed his star "all his life, and followed the 'star' alone." He was no slithering Deepak, that's for sure.

It's just that, in my opinion, he ultimately confused his star with the sun, but that's a subject for a different post. In any event, it's a common temptation for intellectuals who isolate themselves from the sun of tradition. The more brilliant, the greater the temptation to do this.

And because of the childish cult of genius that has developed in our post-religious culture, you might say that we live under a garish firmament of diverse and irreconcilable third-rate stars -- kind of like the Vegas strip at night -- each claiming to be the sun. I mean, Darwin can easily illuminate a college biology course. But the whole cosmos? C'mon. He couldn't even be the Creator's opening act.

In any event, Gödel proved, among other things, that no star can be the sun, and that the sun exists even if man cannot prove it with mere logic.

The point is, the star should lead to the sun, not away from the sun, nor be an end in itself, for then you are dealing with narcissism or idol worship. For example, in the case of those three mages from the east, the star led them to the Christ. They did not worship the star, nor did they presumably elevate themselves for being such fantastic astrologers, much less open a Psychic Shoppe in West Hollywood.

unKnown friend agrees with our assessment of the ultimate value of Jung's work, but notes that his method has much in common with the humble way of the Raccoon, in that it partakes of "concentration without effort" (i.e., playful free association), "interpretation of dreams and spontaneous fantasy," cooperation between "the fertilizing sphere (outside of and beyond the normal consciousness) and fertilized consciousness," "the amplification of immediate data from the manifestation of the unconsciousness by means of alchemy, myths, and mysteries belonging to mankind's historical past," using the unconscious (I would say "supraconscious," or just vertical consciousness) "as guide and master," and most importantly, "not identifying oneself with the superhuman forces of the archetypes -- not allowing them to take possession of the individual consciousness (so that the latter does not become a victim of inflation)."

That paragraph was a mythful to digest, but I think that you could reduce it to the idea of sincerely playing in that expanding transitional space between O and (n), but with the fixed archetypes of tradition, which are not arbitrary or accidental, but as objective as the nighttime sky. Nevertheless, each person necessarily has a slightly different view of them, simply by virtue of existing. After all, to exist is to exist somewhere, i.e., to have a perspective. This is the correct part of postmodernism, as far as it goes.

What postmodernists forget is that we all have a perspective on reality, and that "reality" isn't simply the sum total of perspectives. Lacking in irony -- or failing to surpass it -- they forget to place their own perspective in perspective, which is one of the typical complications of tenure, usually fatal.

unKnown Friend also cites Teilhard de Chardin as someone who was unwaveringly faithful to his star, but in his case, he attempted to do so while remaining faithful to the Church-sun. Ultimately he was unable to square that circle, or to make both ends meet in the muddle, I think partly because of a certain lack of sobriety on his part, and perhaps some excessive sobriety on the part of the Church.

Today, I think there are some more sober Teilhards, on the one hand, and a little more buzzed Church, on the other. Call it "sober intoxication," if you like. It's certainly the unebriated balance I always shoot for.

There was a time that I was very much attracted to Teilhard's thought, if only because there was no one else attempting to go where no man had gone by reconciling modernity and tradition in such a bold manner. I wanted his breadth of vision, which was truly meta-cosmic in its scope -- in both time and space, subject and object, interior and exterior, Kirk and Spock.

As unKnown Friend describes it, Teilhard followed his star on a long trek "through the paths of the universal evolution of the world throughout millions of years. What did he do, properly speaking? He showed the 'star' above the universal evolution of the world, in a way that the latter 'is seen to be knit together and convulsed by a vast movement of convergence... at the term of which we can distinguish a supreme focus of personalizing personality."

In short, Teilhard re-cognized the star above mere natural selection, demonstrating how God and Darwin are as compatible as Adam and Evolution -- just as, in a post-quantum world, atoms and ovulation aren't as far apart as you might think.

I guess you could say that my wild nous chase of the Bobstar was (and is) completely soph-interested, in that I wanted to know how this vast universe resulted in, well, Bob. Not just me per se, but the very possibility of something as unexpected as a me (or you), or what Teilhard refers to above as the "personalizing personality" -- by which he means a local cosmic area of increasingly complex and centrated subjectivity.

What I really wanted to understand was the how the expanding human subject fits into the whole existentialada, and in just what kind of cosmos is such a superfluous and some would say pointless emergence of me even possible? Whatever else the book is -- appearances to the coontrary notwithstanding -- it is also a very personal journeyall that chronicles my attilt to bring together all the loose threads of my life without drowning in the quixocean of it all.

Of course I would like my ideas to be universal, but even if they were, it would nevertheless be necessary for each person to write their own book, i.e., to have the tome of their life. Somewhere in the book it says that we must all compose a symphony out of the notes and chords of our lives, and that no one's loony tune is identical.

But that is what we are after: ultimate co-herence and reconciliation of inner and outer, time and eternity, spirit and matter, faith and reason, intelligence and wisdom, science and religion, for that constitutes peace. And one way or the other, that coherence can only come from the top. Any alternative is a non-starer.

I will conclude by suggesting that this is indeed our cross to bear, but that, as luck would have it, someone else has done most of the heavy lifting for us. Which is the ultimate point of Christmas, the day on which we are simultaneously furthest from and closest to the newborn sun.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Love that Moves the Sun and Other Stars

No time this morning. Only time for a short post.

Whereas the Moon has to do with reflected, i.e., lunar, knowledge, the Sun has to do with direct perception of truth or reality (which amount to the same thing). Obviously, we can see much better when the sun is out and shining.

Or can we? If the sun is too bright, we cannot see at all, as in snowblindness. At the very least, it overpowers more subtle sources of light -- other heavenly bodies that are present but hidden.

After all, it is not as if the cosmos is simply divided into God/not-God, or Creator/creature. Yes, you can certainly look at it that way, and it is not *absolutely* false to do so. But in so doing, you will miss all of the details in the cosmic hierarchy.

In a way, this is the inverse error of logical positivism, whereby the person only accepts scientifically verifiable statements. Do this, and you cut yourself off from the wealth of truth that may be found in literature, art, music, poetry, and religion.

You might say that "religionism" focuses on the absolute sun to the exclusion of the relative moon, while relativism focuses on the relative moon to the exclusion of the absolute sun. The latter can have no real truth, since lunar light presupposes the sun.

One can even extend this into politics, in that moonbats need conservatives, whereas conservatives have no need of moonbats. It is not a reversible relation, since moonbats need the wealth of productive citizens in order to redistribute it, whereas productive citizens do not need unproductive parasites in order to create wealth. The left eventually runs out of other people's money, but we will never run out of people who want other people's money.

Regarding those lesser cosmic lights between sun and earth, you may recall that in the bʘʘk I made reference to "the helpful nonlocal operators standing by, ready to assist you." How does that work? UF explains in the following extended passage, which might be one of the reigning dogmas and catechisms among Raccoons:

"You venerate (i.e., love and respect) a non-incarnated being -- a departed person, a saint, a hierarchical being -- in a disinterested manner. Your veneration -- which includes love, respect, gratitude, the desire to conform, etc. -- cannot fail to create an invisible link of sympathy with its object. It may be in a subtle and dramatic way, or rather in a slow, gradual and almost imperceptible way -- this does not matter -- the day will come when you will experience the presence."

This is nothing like a "phantom," "ghost," or some other apparition, but rather, it is "a breath of radiant serenity, of which you know with certain knowledge that the source from which it emanates is not at all in you. It influences and fills you but does not take its origin in you; it comes from outside you. Just as in drawing near to a fireplace, that the warmth that you feel does not arise from you, but rather from the fireplace, so also do you feel that the breath of serenity in question is due to an objective presence."

Once this nonlocal relationship is established, "it is up to you to remain silently concentrated so that the relationship established is subsequently developed, i.e., that it gains in intensity and clarity -- that it becomes a meeting in full consciousness."

Protestants do not accept the possibility of multiple nonlocal relationships, which is fine. For you, Christ is your master, and that's that. In contrast, Catholicism and Orthodoxy provide numerous other nonlocal operators to light the way toward the Light.

Recall what was said yesterday about the person internalizing a relationship between two poles. For just as a relationship can be mediated by love, two can be bound by hatred. Just as, say, a sexually repressed man may chose to be around women who reject him (so as to externalize the conflict), a dysfunctional people, such as the Palestinians, have formed an unbreakable bond with Israel. They do not hate Israel because of "X." Rather, they believe "X" because of their hatred, which is the real driver. Hatred makes one believe insane things (think, for example, of all the insane things trolls believe about me.)

For the neurotic person, such a bond can be every bit as strong as a healthy one; in fact, in a sense, even stronger, since healthy love eventually transcends its immediate object and leads all the way back up to its divine source, whereas the unhealthy kind is solely focused on its local object, which leads to all sorts of other secondary and tertiary pathologies. (It is the same with art, by the way -- the real thing automatically transcends itself and provokes a love of the beautiful per se.)

Sorry to end so abruptly, but I'm already late. To be continued.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mental Masturbation and the Fertile Marriage of Faith and Science

Let's pick up where we left off last Friday, with the distinction between the solar, lunar, and celestial sources of light (and therefore truth). Solar corresponds to creative light, lunar to reflected light, and celestial to revealed light (as outlined in chapter XVIII of MOTT).

Note that these are not three "different lights," but the one light present in three modes. In turn, this is why there cannot be any ultimate conflict between religion and science, because truth is truth, whatever the medium. If you think there is a conflict, this only means you need to think again -- more deeply, more broadly, and more integrally. If the One Light didn't exist, man would go mad, for he would be permanently riven by thoughts, impulses, and desires from all the planes of being, with no possibility of deep interior unity. Frankly, he wouldn't know whether to sh*t or wind his wristwatch.

That there is "one light" has its analogue in the realm of physics, where it is understood as a deeply interconnected wavelike field. Likewise, the human mind shares this feature of field-like oneness. While we use terms to describe mental functioning which make it sound as if one part can be isolated from another (e.g., projection, splitting, compartmentalization, repression), these are just ways to think about something that otherwise cannot be thought about.

For example, when we use the term "projection," what we really mean is "projective identification." The former implies that we may rid our minds of painful and unwanted content by placing it elsewhere -- in other people, in the environment, in conservatives, whatever.

But in fact, whenever we project, it is from one part of our mind into another part of our mind, or from one subject (or sub-self) to another. To take a common example, let's say Mr. X has developmental issues with a chronically intrusive and controlling mother. As a result, he doesn't just internalize an object, but a dipolar relationship -- let us call it the aggressive intruder linked to a violated intrudee. Should Mrs. X begin nagging Mr. X, it is likely that his mind will switch into this earlier object relation. Either he will feel intensely persecuted in a way that goes beyond what the situation calls for; or, he will identify with the other pole of the object relationship, and lash out in an aggressive and intrusive manner.

Have you ever seen Fawlty Towers? You will have noticed that Basil basically has two interpersonal modes: in short, as Winston Churchill said of the Hun, he is either at your feet or at your throat. He devalues half the world with contempt and scorn, but when in the presence of a social superior, he "switches" and identifies with the contemptible object. Thus we see that contempt and fawning or groveling are really two sides of the same coin (or, think of the Cowardly Lion, who is just the other side of the Bullying Lion).

I don't want to get sidetracked, but I couldn't help noticing a conspicuous version of this in Christopher Hitchens, who was so brimming with anger, narcissism, contempt, and (intellectual) class consciousness. I fully agree that it was quite bracing to see him bully someone who deserved it, e.g., Saddam, Khomeini, Milošević, Clinton. But he could just as easily flip -- and flip out -- by training his rage and contempt on obviously decent and good people such as Pope John Paul or Mother Teresa.

I looked up an example and found this, when he "erupted into a drunken rage at a recent promotional event for his book. Hitchens reportedly descended from the stage, visibly inebriated, approached a Roman Catholic priest (Rev. George Rutler) in the audience, and began shouting at him, only inches from his face. Hitchens’ manner appeared so physically menacing, witnesses say, that a plainclothes bodyguard on duty at the event rushed in and escorted the drunken scribe from the room."

Then, “At the end of the event as he staggered, sweating and red faced, out of the room, he [Hitchens] advanced on Father Rutler in a threatening and physical manner, screaming that [he] was `a child molester and a lazy layabout who never did a day’s work in his life’.... Several of the event organizers then escorted Hitchens to the men’s room and when he emerged he continued his psychotic rant, repeating the same calumnious and baseless screed (sic) as before."

Now, a normal person -- once he sobers up -- would regard such an incident as a serious wake up call. He would be filled with shame, remorse, and self-loathing, and understand that he needs help. But the alcoholic essentially disables the idiot lights on his dashboard, and doubles down on his dysfunctional lifestyle. I've known several people with the identical dynamic.

Because of this cold, I can see that I am rambling. Let's get back to the "three lights" discussed above. As unKnown Friend explains, science is essentially lunar, in that it seeks to "reflect" the natural world. Which is as it should be. Scientific knowledge is always reflected knowledge (although, at the same time, it is always rooted in a tacit metaphysic that borrows from the other two sources, for example, the imaginative "solar" creativity that fuels scientific advance, or the abiding celestial faith in the rationality of reality).

The lunar mode can only comprehend that which is discontinuous, never that which is continuous. One persistent fallacy that results from this is the attempt to treat continuous and wave-like systems in a discontinuous and atomistic manner. But just because we can dissect an animal, it doesn't mean we understand the phenomenon of Life, which is the quintessence of wholeness and deep interior relation.

The celestial knowledge embodied in the Gospel of John reveals to us the creative Word, "which is the light and life of men." Here, intelligence "has the task of understanding the whole world as the organisatory act of the Word and Jesus Christ as the cosmic Word made flesh."

Whereas lunar intelligence seeks to understand "that which is," this logocentric mode seeks to participate "in the becoming of that which is to be." It is not just to be "born again," but to give birth -- which is to participate in the intrinsic and eternal creativity of the Word. (Note the dipolarity of giving and receiving birth, which is very much emphasized by Eckhart. It's easy to misunderstand -- and how! -- the subtle point he is making, when he says words to the effect that in giving birth to the living God, he gives birth to us.)

Real solar creativity is a kind of higher life that is continuous with, or a mirror of, the divine activity. The point is, on the intellectual plane, approaching God doesn't just require a leap of faith, but a leap of imagination or of creative activity -- which is also its seal of authenticity. It is one of the things implied by the symbol O--> (n), which is a continuous flow, "or river of water of life," not something fixed and dead.

UF writes that the latter involves the true union of intelligence with the intuition of faith. If these two are alienated or estranged, they need to be reconciled in true marriage and become "one flesh." It is not simply one mode added to the other, but a real harmonious -- and creative -- union. (There is much more on this union in the following letter, The Sun, which we'll no doubt get to soon.)

UF singles out several thinkers whom he believes approached or achieved this fusion of faith and intelligence, including Origen, Denys, Aquinas, Jacob Boehme, Berdayev, and Teilhard de Chardin. He contrasts this with the circularity of lunar logic, and the need to break out of its closed world, citing a passage by Bergson:

"If we had never seen a man swim, we might say that swimming is an impossible thing, in as much as, to learn to swim, we must begin by holding ourselves up in water and, consequently, already know how to swim. Reasoning, in fact, always nails us down to the solid ground."

This type of earthbound intelligence is in servitude to that which is infinitely beneath its scope and station: "It looks to the least developed and the most primitive for the cause and the explanation of what is most developed and the most advanced in the process of evolution.... it retreats into matter. It does something with regard to the world which would be absurd with regard to a work of art.... Intelligence which prefers retreating to flying must inevitably arrive at the impasse of absurdity.... And the absurd... this is suicide for intelligence" (MOTT).

Bergson continues: "But if, quite simply, I throw myself into the water without fear, I may keep myself up well enough at first by merely struggling, and gradually adapt myself to the new environment: I shall learn to swim.... if the risk be accepted, action will perhaps cut the knot that reasoning has tied and will not unloose."

So our intelligence must take the plunge in order to leave the prison of materialism: "[L]eap it must, that is, leave its own environment. Reason, reasoning on its powers, will never succeed in extending them, though the extension would not appear at all unreasonable once it were accomplished." For example, one could publish thousands of studies on the nature of walking on solid ground, but they "will never yield a rule for swimming: come, enter the water, and when you know how to swim, you will understand how the mechanism of swimming is connected with that of walking. Swimming is an extension of walking, but walking would never have pushed you on to swimming."

That is a critical point, for from the perspective of walking, the leap to swimming looks "discontinuous." But from the perspective of swimming, one can appreciate the continuity, which is none other than "the God of the gaplessness" of reality. Science sees "gaps" that it imagines the religious believer fills in with "God." But it is actually the other way around. Once one leaps into the Word, one sees how there cannot be any radical gaps at all.

This, in case you didn't know, is the reason why I arranged my book so that the chapters are both continuous and discontinuous, from nothing (or beyond-being) to being, matter to life, life to mind, and mind to spirit (in other words, there are distinct "chapters," even though the sentences that link them run together). Only from the point of view of the first half of each pair does the second look discontinuous. But from the point of view of the second, one doesn't just "see," but one unproblematically lives the continuity. One swims.

After all, doesn't your body easily unify matter and life without you having to think about it? And doesn't your mind easily unify -- well, most of the time -- intelligence, emotion, will, and desire? And doesn't the Raccoon naturally live the unity of matter, life, mind and Spirit, or O? Of course. And there is no "technique" for doing so, accept for aspiring (↑) and submitting to the nonlocal Grace (↓) that meets us more than halfway. This is not something any mere animal could do, not in 13.7 billion years.

The unity comes from the top, not the bottom, of the cosmic hierarchy. Which is why it is indeed One Cosmos Under God.

The harmonious union of higher and lower:

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