Friday, May 18, 2012
While metaphysics is exact, it generally must be expressed in inexact terms in order to convey the depths of its exactitude.
As Sells explains, we begin with the "unresolvable dilemma of transcendence." Although it is beyond names, in order to unname it, we must give it a name. As such, we must always be mindful of the fact that this name cannot function as a "container" in the way normal words do.
Rather, the transcendent name -- or the name of the transcendent -- is more like a placemarker; it designates a "hole" that we must fill through grace-infused experience, lest we saturate it with a lot of preconceived ideas.
To put to put it another way, the word must simultaneously convey presence while at the same time evoking its own absence; this corresponds to the realm of mystery, which is the quintessence of present absence and absent presence, or like the "dark radiation" of faith.
It is not just God that must be discussed in this manner. The most intense human realities shade off into the ineffable and uncontainable, so that we risk trivializing them if we try to reduce them to some mechanical formula (which, for example, all bad drama and poetry do). Sex, death, love, and winning the Stanley Cup are all uncontainable, even though we obviously have words and even trophies for them.
But for those of you who have, for example, lost a loved one, you no doubt remember how you entered an alternate reality in the presence of Death, a reality that was entirely separate from the common use of the word. Among other things, the nature of time changes, and you are in the realm of the sacred. It's difficult to appreciate until you're in it.
Or perhaps you recall the intensity of the first time you fell in love, of being plunged into a reality that is beyond familiar words and concepts. It is then that you realize, "Oh. This is where all those stupid songs come from."
Likewise, modern people who imagine they are most sophisticated about matters of sexuality are usually the most naive. Human sexuality is like a signifier that cannot be signified or contained, but it can be "channelled" upward and inward, which is one of the esoteric purposes of marriage.
As a perceptive reader pointed out to a sightless troll the other day, one of the purposes of this kind of language is to to set up a seemingly paradoxical or binary opposition that vaults the mind upward toward a nonlocal "third."
For example, you will see a number of these in the Cosmogenesis and Cosmobliteration sections of the Coonifesto. Such orthoparadoxical language is a common -- but inadequate -- adequation to the Real, which is always just beyond the horizon of articulation, and well beyond the possibility of book sales.
The purpose of such spontaneous descryptics is to render our normal understanding of speech inoperative, so as to lure the mind in, up, and out. It is a "creative destruction" of language, very different from the mostly "destructive destruction" of deconstruction.
The distinction we are making is hardly postmodern. Rather, it is transmodern (at a light angle to time and history), and has always been understood by the most sophisticated theologians, e.g., Philo, Plotinus, Dionysius, Origen, Shankara, John Scotus Eriugena, and certainly Eckhart, who may have been the greatest genius in his startlingly fresh and novel uses of language to properly deutsch the undeutschable and eff the ineffingbelievable.
Recall that yesterday we spoke of the fundamental opposition -- or complementarity -- within scripture between its inner and outer meanings, or the spirit and letter; another balance it must maintain is between transcendence and immanence, for it is always both.
Again, scripture must simultaneously convey and yet only "suggest" in a provocative manner (here again, the sayings of Jesus are exquisitely constructed in this regard; not surprisingly, the balance he achieves is "perfect").
In fact, this is one of the ways to instantly recognize true from false revelation. For example, if you have ever read one of those incredibly dopey Scientology brochures, they contain the most leaden and almost retarded prose you could imagine. In fact, it is retarded, for just as one can be intellectually or morally retarded, one can be spiritually retarded.
You also see the opposite, that is, the use of pseudo-forms of religious speech toward wholly unholy absecular ends. Someone who is familiar with these techniques recognizes them in an instant in the vacuous rhetoric of Obama. It is clearly religious speech, but in the absence of the religious object (since it is essentially aimed at religious retards, and therefore, proglodytes who most hunger after transcendence without realizing or being able to acknowledge it).
As dangerous as an L. Ron Hubbard is, a B. Hussein Obama is infinitely more so, being that he is so much more skillful than Hubbard at aping religious rhetoric, including its "rhythms." Hubbard essentially engages in religious pornography, leaving nothing to the (higher) imagination.
Obama, on the other hindleg, specifically misapporoprates the higher imagination (after all, he learned this technique from a pneumapathic master, Rev. Wright). There is plenty of "space" in his rhetoric for the irreligiously religious hysteric to "fill in the blanks," which is a formula for infinite mischief. It is essentially a pseudo-verticalisthenic exercise in bait and switch -- of baiting the religious instinct and then switching the religious object to the almighty state.
In other words, Obama is simply recycling the same old lies of the left, except that he is able to skillfully communicate them as if they represent not just novelty or "change," but transcendence, of all things!
Anyone with spiritual discernment can see that his rhetoric does not point "up" and beyond itself toward the Real, as his hypnotized wackolytes imagine. Rather, it ultimately points down and out, something that becomes increasingly obvious as the campaign wears on. I am as sick of him already as I was of Clinton after eight long minutes.
But we're getting sidetracked. What I really wanted to do is to enter the linguistic wayback machine, which also happens to be in the same loquation as the wayup machine (i.e., Creator and Redeemer are One and the Same).
First, an invocation to announce that we are leaving secular time behind and below, and venturing into the nonlocal origins of All, which can only be discerned in the now, since that's when it was first accompliced for the last time; to quote Eckhart, the beginning of all things "also means the end of all things, since the first beginning is because of the last end."
In The Beginning....
This has all happened before; it will all happen again....
Once Upon a Time....
At the beginning of the beginning, even nothing didn't exist....
One's upin a timeless, without a second to spore....
Somehow, this story, no matter who tells it, always involves water and oceans. Most obviously,
And the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
But how about,
From the Light there came forth a holy Word, which took its stand upon the watery substance. (Hermes)
Out of the infinite ocean of existence arose Brahma, the first-born and and foremost among the gods. From him sprang the universe, and he became its protector. (Mundaka Upanishad)
Unfathomable as the sea, wondrously ending only to begin again, informing all creation without being exhausted... (Chuang-tse)
For nor before nor after was the process of God's overflowing over these waters. (Dante)
I could go on, but you get the idea. Now, as Sells mentions with regard to poetry, drama, or most any other form of art, the deeper meaning "risks being trivialized when its meaning is defined and paraphrased discursively" -- like trying to explain the meaning of a joke, which defloats its whole porpoise.
As such, scripture is intended to have a punchline, except that it must be a guffah-ha! experience. There is a fine line between skillful exegesis and simply spoiling the joke of scripture, like a bad straight man who steps on your fine line.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Except it can't be cruel, since there is no one responsible for this impractical joke. Rather, it's just an unnecessary, superfluous, and annoying activity that interferes with the real action of existence: food. Sex. Grog. Power. Or pleasure, for short.
It is therefore ironic that the people who most insist that thought has no ultimate significance are the most certain of the ultimate truth of their own thought. For the restavus, we have only faith, not certitude, (o) not (ø).
The world seems so obviously defective, why should it make sense? In other words, perhaps all the disorder in and around us results from the fact that the disorder is built in. We look for truth, for meaning, for order, but in vain, since there is none to be had.
That's certainly one way of looking at it, and we actually respect the person who looks at it this way, so long as he truly lives by it -- Nietzsche, for example.
One of Nietzsche's finer qualities was that he at least had the good sense to merely go insane, instead of trying to impose his insanity on the rest of us, as have so many other existentialists.
If you want to go nuts, hey, go nuts! But what gives you the right to impose your insanity on the collective? What, are you nuts? What if I don't want to be rescued by a bunch of statist nuts?
This gets to the nub of Voegelin's argument in Science, Politics, and Gnosticism. In it he has a chapter called The Murder of God. It's funny that something that doesn't exist needs to be murdered at all, but that's just one more irony lost on the left. Shoot first, ask questions never.
In order to solve a murder, you need what? Motive, means, and opportunity. What could be the motive for this deicide? Hatred? Yes, but of what? Can't be God, can it?
Voegelin writes that the aim of political gnosticism "is to destroy the order of being, which is experienced as defective and unjust, and through man's creative power to replace it with a perfect and just order."
Now, if there is no God, then there is no intrinsic order, not to mention any basis for justice. Therefore, injustice and disorder are precisely what we should expect to see, and we have no right to expect otherwise. There's no crying in Darwinism. Deal with it.
Conversely, for the believer, order is necessary, disorder contingent. In fact, disorder has its own necessity -- "relative necessity," as it were -- because it is not the Order, precisely. Everyone and everything necessarily falls short of its ideal, since we are creature, not Creator.
Therefore, for us, the existence of disorder is a banality, not a crisis per se. Indeed, most of us learn by the age of seven or eight that "life's not fair," and move on. Others become Democrats.
The task of man is indeed to "repair the world" (ticoon O'lam), but this is because there is an ideal, precisely. It is not for us to reinvent the world order, because that's not repair, it's destruction. We are to be jehovial witnesses to this ideal, not witless juvenile idealists.
But for the gnostic, "the givenness of the order of being must be obliterated." The order of being is "essentially under man's control," and "taking control of being requires that the transcendent origin of being be obliterated: it requires the decapitation of being -- the murder of God."
That's a pretty bold statement. Are we seriously charging the left with deicide? Not necessarily. It could be abortion, i.e., killing him in the womb of speculative thought, for the gnostic insists that "man should stop creating gods because this sets absurd limits to his will and action; and he should realize that the gods he has already created have in fact been created by him" (Voegelin).
Beneath the destructiveness there is envy. Envy is built into man, but if unacknowledged and forced underground, it can take on literally cosmic proportions. Thus, one of the motives in deicide is envy of the Creator: "If there were gods, how could I endure not being a god!" Therefore, there are no gods, and I am he!
In the Marxist version, man is a product of nature, which is a process through which man is gradually revealed to himself. Thus, the final apocalypse of man leads to the murder of God, for this bang ain't big enough for the both of us. God and socialist man cannot coexist.
Now, to kill God is to kill man. Except the man survives the operation. But in what form? There is the trembling little man, murder weapon in hand, blood dripping from the blade. Now what?
First, get ahold of yourself! Don't you see what you have done! You have killed god, and only a god can kill a god! Thus "The madman does not go backward, he goes forward," like MSNBC. "[I]f the deed is too great for man, then man must rise up above himself to the greatness of the deed" and become the Olber-man.
But.... "the nature of a thing cannot be changed; whoever tries to 'alter' its nature destroys the thing. Man cannot transform himself into a superman; the attempt to create a superman is an attempt to murder man. Historically, the murder of God is not followed by the superman, but the murder of man: the deicide of the gnostic theoreticians is followed by the homicide of the revolutionary practitioners" (ibid).
In five days we are going to fundamentally transform America!
For we are the ones we've been waiting for, and we are the deiciders!
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Non-thought is an active perversion of thinking, and often exhibits a great deal of intelligence. It is a type of thinking that is detached from its proper object, -- or end -- which is reality in all its inexhaustible richness and depth.
I first began thinking about thinking, o, about 27 years ago, in the spring of 1985. And now that I'm in this gnostalgic mood, I just pulled a book from the shelf, Second Thoughts, by W.R. Bion (not recommended to the laity). The title is a play on words, because it is Bion thinking about his own thinking, providing "second thoughts" about various papers he had written over the previous fifteen years or so. The book first presents the paper, followed by his second thoughts and re-servations.
I see that one of the papers is called A Theory of Thinking. His first thoughts begin with the idea that his theory covers the same ground as various philosophical theories, with one difference: his theory was intended for use (i.e., clinical work leading to growth), analogous to the difference between, say, abstract theories of meteorology vs. whether you need to take an umbrella to work today (or, leftist economics vs. economics).
For Bion, thinking is "dependent on the successful outcome of two main mental developments." The first of these is "the development of thoughts." That pretty much happens automatically, unless one is in a coma. The second involves the development of "an apparatus to cope with them." Thus, "thinking has to be called into existence to cope with thoughts."
This theory reverses the usual way we think about thinking -- as if thinking produces the thought. But for you thinkers out there, you know that thoughts just come to you, and that you couldn't create one via thinking any more than you could create life in a test tube or Obama could create wealth in any context.
Thus, "thinking is a development forced on the psyche by the pressure of thoughts and not the other way around." Psychopathology may occur at either end, with the creation or management of thoughts; in other words, there may be "a breakdown in the development of thoughts, or a breakdown in the development of the apparatus for 'thinking' or dealing with thoughts, or both."
Now, thoughts are not just of the same order. Rather, they arise on various planes of consciousness which we call "vertical." We can have empirical thoughts, sensory thoughts, spiritual thoughts, emotional thoughts.
Some of our thoughts are quite primitive, and we clearly do not have control over them, as they are essentially "pre-human." Men, for example, beginning at a certain age, are bombarded by sexual thoughts. It's as if a primitive part of the psyche is unleashed, and now the mind has to develop a way to cope with these thoughts. Much of Arab culture revolves around the wrong way to do it.
There are also "empty thoughts," which is to say, categories of thought awaiting "realization." These consist of a kind of space awaiting fulfillment via experience. Jung called them "archetypes," but you could also just call them "human nature."
As Bion describes it, "when the pre-conception is brought into contact with a realization that approximates to it, the mental outcome is a conception." Thus, it is as if there is an implicit or nonlocal thought that only becomes explicit and local through experience -- somewhat analogous to the wave/particle complementarity in physics, where observation pulls the latter from the former.
Some thoughts are "unwanted," which means that emotion has clouded the picture. In other words, what happens if we have a true thought that we nevertheless don't want? The mind has a number of mechanisms to deal with this exigency, just as the body has ways to deal with unwanted invaders.
But just as the body can mistakenly attack itself -- what are called autoimmune disorders -- the mind too can mistakenly attack its own substance. For example, if man is in the image of the Creator, then any form of vulgar anti-theism would represent a psychic autoimmune disorder (with predictable consequences).
There are several mechanisms to avoid thinking unwanted thoughts, ranging from the primitive to the more sophisticated. The most primitive include denial, splitting, and projective identification, which, working in concert, displace the unwanted thought (or thought fragment) into the environment, usually in other minds. This doesn't actually eliminate the thought, but it is preferable to feel persecuted from outside than inside the head.
Some important implications follow this psychic expulsion of thoughts, touching on what was said yesterday about the will to power replacing the search for truth. On some level, the person who manages thought in this pathological way must feel superior to reality: instead of discriminating between true and false, "omniscience substitutes... a dictatorial affirmation that one thing is morally right and the other wrong."
Bion has just described the mechanism of political correctness, which again forbids certain avenues of thought through moral condemnation. And again, I don't want to pretend that this doesn't occur on the "right," because it does, especially with certain fundamentalist types.
Let's flip ahead and find out what sorts of second thoughts Bion had about all this.
Hmm. Not too many, really. Or rather, too many: "the ramifications... are so considerable that I require another book to attempt elucidation."
Along these lines, he warns of how the thinker might seize onto a "sense of security" in order "to offset and neutralize the sense of insecurity following on the discovery that discovery has exposed further vistas of unsolved problems -- 'thoughts' in search of a thinker."
In other words, reality never stops speaking just because we have stopped listening, or because we have some little theory to make the mystery go away and stop bothering us. A theory of thinking is not the same as the unending project of thinking.
Which leads right back to Voegelin's Science, Politics, and Gnosticism, because this is precisely what the gnostic has done: stopped listening to reality. Consider this little gem from Karl Marx's crocktoral dissertation:
"The confession of Prometheus, 'In a word, I hate all the gods,' is its own confession, its own verdict against all gods heavenly and earthly who do not acknowledge human self-consciousness as the supreme deity. There shall be none beside it" (in Voegelin).
Later in the book Voegelin outlines what might be thought of as the cure for such gnostic omnipotence: "Thus, 'actual knowledge' is reserved to God; finite man can only be the 'lover of knowledge,' not himself the one who knows.... If a thinker attempts it, he is not advancing philosophy, but abandoning it to become a gnostic."
In short, for the gnostic, "In the clash between system and reality, reality must give way."
Or, non-thought must triumph over thought.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Voegelin characterizes Marx as a "speculative gnostic" who grounded his politico-economic framework in an evolutionary vision of nature. In this scheme, all of nature is "in the state of becoming, and in the course of its development it has brought forth man: 'Man is directly a being of nature.'"
There's nothing fundamentally wrong with the idea that nature is developing, except that this can have nothing to do with Darwinian evolution, which describes only change, not progress. More to the point, Marx re-buries man in nature, so that what is actually distinct in man, and belongs to his trans-nature, is annihilated.
Thus, "When 'socialist man' speaks, man has to be silent," which is a rather polite way of putting it. In any event, it is why the left would like for us to shut up, why they impose speech codes, why political correctness abounds, and why they hate God and religion. This is described in the last paragraph of yesterday's post, in reference to those special assouls who know exactly why
"their opinions cannot stand up under critical analysis and who therefore make the prohibition of the examination of their premises part of their dogma. This position of a conscious, deliberate, and painstakingly elaborated obstruction of ratio constitutes the new phenomenon" (Voegelin).
So if you want to talk about progress, this systematic assault on truth is indeed something new under the sun.
But it's not just the children of Marx who have progressed in this deviant manner, for truth is also forbidden by the specter of "positivist man." This humanoid beastling can also be called scientistic man, atheist man, or Darwinist man, for each of these, in his own way, pretends that materialism exhausts the meaning of human existence.
Now, minimal acquaintance with philosophy establishes the truth of a Marx, a Darwin, a Dawkins. Thus, one needs a little more than the minimum to debunk them, which I suppose is why philosophy is not taught in public schools, in favor of multicultural bunk.
Or, to be perfectly accurate, philosophy is taught, except that its assumptions are buried elsewhere, and never spoken of explicitly. This has provoked a backlash of "creationists" in certain quarters, but the real problem is metaphysical, not theological.
Wherever there is leftism, there is the suppression of certain questions and avenues of thought. As we have discussed in the past, just as a neurosis may be thought of as a "private culture," a culture may be thought of as a public neurosis. Now, a neurosis always involves the suppression of an unwanted truth.
Just so, the neurotic culture of the left has many defense mechanisms in place, so that alarms go off as soon as anyone approaches a dangerous truth. Examples are too numerous to chronicle, but just last week we saw what happened to someone who exposed the truth of black studies and its "left-wing victimization claptrap." Off with her head! (More on this undisciplined pseudo-discipline.)
Voegelin describes the deeper structure of this process. It begins with "a thinker who knows that his construct will collapse as soon as the basic philosophical question is asked." The intellectually and spiritually normal person recognizes this, and abandons the construct. Not so the leftist, who merely prohibits the question.
But why? What has happened to the person who is no longer interested in truth, and yet -- without irony -- imposes one version of it: There is No Truth, and Only I Possess It.
Voegelin called it an "intellectual swindle," which is an excellent way of putting it. For to exchange truth for ideology isn't just a bad deal, it's suicidal. Which wouldn't necessarily be so bad if it weren't also homicidal.
But again, why? Man has an innate epistemophilia, so what has happened to this transnatural instinct in the ideologue?
As we have discussed before, man is composed of intellect, of will, and of sentiment. To deny truth is to maim the intellect. But that doesn't kill the body. Rather, it seems that the will to power comes in to fill the vacuum. This perverse will
"has a violence and cruelty that go beyond the delight in masquerade and in the deception of others." It also "turns on the thinker himself and unmasks his thought as a cunning will to power."
Let's take another example from just last week, when President Obama decided to express his support for the redefinition of marriage. It is a matter of public record that this was merely a power play, in that wealthy donors were threatening to withhold funds if he didn't openly embrace their agenda.
For Newsweek to then proclaim Obama the "first gay president" is completely absurd, in light of the fact that he is just another statist with a transparently cunning will to power.
To believe otherwise one must want to believe otherwise, which is itself another instance of the will-to-power genre, except that it doesn't accrue to the power of the rank-and-foul self-deluder, only to the powerful. In reality it is but a "graceless disorder of the soul" rooted in a "demonic mendacity" (ibid).
(All quoted material from Science, Politics, And Gnosticism.)
Monday, May 14, 2012
Hope itself isn't the problem, properly understood. After all, it is a theological virtue. I have here a handy little book called The One-Minute Philosopher, which distinguishes between Hope and Wish.
The former "involves the conviction that, despite appearances to the contrary, truth and goodness will prevail." Thus, it is not at all easy to maintain hope in the teeth of this decayed world, which is precisely why it is a virtue.
Please note that the hope is for this world, not for a magical one dreamt up by ideologues. Any tenured yahoo can imagine something better, but that isn't what we're talking about.
Rather, we're talking about accepting the world for what it is, and committing ourselves to its betterment. If we do not accept the world for what it is -- and human beings for what they are -- then our hopes will be completely misplaced. They will be reduced to wishes, and wishes to ashes.
And what is a wish? It "involves the fancy that, despite appearances to the contrary, our desire will be satisfied. To wish is to invoke fortune to bring us what we want, even when what we want is not good" (Brown).
Consider some of the implications drawn out by Brown: "hope is creative," but "wish is imaginative." While "I can wish for anything, I hope only for what is possible. My hope looks to the future, but is rooted in reality as it is."
And importantly, "what we hope for, we are also willing to work for." Thus, working for Obama's re-election so that the state will provide me more of what I desire, is not hope. I wish I could play tenor sax, but I realize Obama can't help me there.
That's a wish. A wish "has no particular bond with reality as it is, but feeds on fantasy.... Wishing is like dreaming: it is not confined to reality as it is, nor is there any good reason to believe that my wish will come true.... [U]nlike when we hope for something, we are not necessarily willing to work for it. We wish for all sorts of unattainable and frivolous things" (ibid.).
The left wishes socialized medicine would work, that the welfare state wouldn't bankrupt the nation, that we could borrow our way to prosperity, that members of the same sex could marry each other, that racial discrimination could end racial discrimination, that human fetuses aren't human, that women aren't women, that men aren't men, that palefarces were Indians, ad gnoseam.
But none of these things can be. We can try to force them to be, but the system will crack under the pressure of the denied reality. And it must remain cracked in order to continue "functioning."
I heard someone make a good point about this on the radio. Why have our Supreme Court hearings become so contentious? One reason, really. It is because of the twisted pettifoggery of Roe v. Wade.
Today, we are all supposed to bow before this grotesque example of judicial wishery, so that only those who reject reality are acceptable to liberals. This is bound to create tension, to put it mildly. The same will happen with regard to the redefinition of marriage if it is forced upon us by the court.
The marketplace of ideas is supposed to be a struggle of truth against truth, or, more accurately, a struggle for or toward truth. But what if it becomes a struggle for and against truth? For Voegelin, that is precisely what the political struggle involves, because it is the same struggle that is "waged on every level of human existence."
For example, it is axiomatic in psychology that pathology results from one part of the mind being at war with another. An unwanted truth is denied, repressed, or projected, and the lacunae is unconsciously filled with the wish, the desire, the preferred state of reality.
Likewise, we enter dangerous pneumapolitcal terrortory when confronted "with persons who know that, and why, their opinions cannot stand up under critical analysis and who therefore make the prohibition of the examination of their premises part of their dogma. This position of a conscious, deliberate, and painstakingly elaborated obstruction of ratio constitutes the new phenomenon" (Voegelin).
I wish it weren't so, but it is what it is. Or isn't, to be exact.
To be continued....