Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Speak Truth to Power by Getting a Clue about Yourself, Assoul

Yesterday we discussed that book in the Priestess's lap, which is said to represent the descent of spirit, from the spiritual/experiential "touch" of mysticism down to the religio-philosophical sense, and into the "writing of one's book," so to speak. Evidently, in order to become a journeyman spiritual transmitter, one must begin as an apprentice lightning rod.

This is what Tomberg refers to on p. 43, where he writes that "Gnosis without mystical experience is sterility itself. It is just a religious ghost, without life or movement. It is the corpse of religion, animated intellectually by means of scraps fallen from the table of the past history of humanity."

It is not dissimilar to how a once great nation that produced luminaries such as Washington, Hamilton, and Lincoln -- people who actually touched political truth -- has been brought so low that it can be led by an ill-educated political psychopath who agrees with his Marxist spiritual advisor that "white folks' greed runs a world in need." But no one cares because the state never makes a mistake. At least when race-baiting leftists are in charge, whose credo is speaking lies to the powerless!

As always, right thinking is the ultimate act of rebellion against the fallen world, just as disordered thinking is the root of auto-slavery.

Tomberg writes that a mysticism that fails to give birth to gnosis "must, sooner or later, necessarily degenerate into 'spiritual enjoyment' or 'intoxication.' The mystic who wants only the experience of mystical states without understanding them, without drawing practical conclusions from them for life, and without wanting to be useful to others, who forgets everyone and everything in order to enjoy the mystical experience, can be compared to a spiritual drunkard."

So many spiritual drunkards! This pretty much summarizes the New Age movement, which is so devoid of sobriety, like the incoherent ranting of Deepak Chopra. Example:

"If Occupy America can channel its anger into awareness, the next step is to ask, 'What is our goal?' When I was down among the demonstrators, I led a meditation on that question, and it seemed to calm down the people around me, which demonstrates, I think, that the whole Occupy movement is about angry idealists, not just people who feel screwed by Wall St., although that is the spark and the point of injustice that somehow must be faced."

More like channeling greed into wealth by selling impotent resentment to the masses.

Like all liberals, there is one thing Deepak knows: that nothing will change until you embrace and celebrate your inner victim and turn your power over to the state. "Eventually, all change starts there," by "standing up and saying 'I accuse you of injustice.'" Wahhhhhhhh!

Yes, all personal growth begins with an unwavering commitment to the ideal that It's all someone else's fault! My son's not even eight yet, and he knows he can't get away with that. So how can the president? Oh, right. Three. Different developmental stage.

Tomberg makes the important point that true contemplation picks up where discursive reason leaves off. "Discursive thought is satisfied when it arrives at a well-founded conclusion. Now, this conclusion is the point of departure for contemplation. It fathoms the profundity of this conclusion at which discursive thought arrives."

The contemplation of depth is the miraculous vertical rabbit hole that draws us in and up: "contemplation discovers a world within that which discursive thought simply verifies as 'true.'"

Please note that what Tomberg is saying doesn't only apply to the world of scientific truth, but to religious truth as well.

Again, there are spiritual books that are deep, but many more that are shallow. Both disclose "truth," but what a difference! It's like a great artist and a Sunday painter depicting the same landscape. Who knows, the latter might even be more technically "accurate," so what explains the depth of the former? Here again, it is that sense of mystical touch, which the gifted artist is then able to convey on canvas.

There is something much deeper than the simple binary question, "is it true or false?" Think of a great novel. Was it true or false? Did the events really happen as described?

As Tomberg writes, contemplation "perceives more the significance of the truth discovered by discursive thought," and then tries to trace this depth back to its ultimate source. How does one do this? "By listening in silence. It is as if one wanted to recall something forgotten."

It is analogous to the "tip of the tongue" phenomenon, in which you know it's there, but have to relax into it -- perhaps even forget in order to remember. Or, perhaps it's like the distant stars which disappear when you stare directly at them, but reappear in your peripheral vision if you look away. An infinite amount of light will elude you if you attempt to stare it down with scientism!

No, this is the realm of vertical recollection, or what Plato called anamnesis. As Tomberg points out, horizontal memory renders the past present, while vertical memory "renders that which is above as present below."

This is perhaps the key to understanding scripture, which, if reduced to mere horizontality, becomes functionally useless. No, that's an exaggeration. The point is, it will still operate vertically, even if you imagine that it is horizontal. It can still work its magic, but if you insist too much on the horizontality, it can diminish the verticality.

It reminds me of the sola scriptura of DNA fundamentalists. Their genetic determinism notwithstanding, they are free to believe that the story of man may be reduced to the literal book of DNA, but they're going to miss all the interesting stuff.

As the mystical sense is analogous to spiritual touch, the gnostic sense is analogous to hearing. Obviously, it is this that Jesus is attempting to highlight when he speaks of having ears but being unable to hear, for true hearing takes place on the level of vertical depth. This kind of deep hearing can only occur in an environment of expectant silence or passive openness, i.e., (---) and (o).

You will notice that we listen to a great artist in a different way than we do to the typical hack. One of the reasons for this is that the true artist has earned our respect, as we know from experience that there will be an added dimension of depth to his work if only we give it sufficient time. There are no hidden depths in the mediocre artist. It's all right out there, as in pornography (which may almost be defined as having no interior).

Tomberg goes into a little riff on the nature of art, which he compares to the magical sense of projection: "The talent of the artist consists in this: that he can render objective -- or project -- his ideas and feelings so as to obtain a more profound effect on others than that of the expression of ideas and feelings by a person who is not an artist. A work of art is endowed with a life of its own," very similar to the process of birth itself.

He concludes the chapter by noting that scientistic materialism can only be "true" if we exclude all of the other planes that make the horizontal plane of natural facts possible, and isolate the realm of quantitative facts from the rest of reality.

At the polar opposite of this is the Hermetic-philosophical sense, or the "sense of synthesis," which is capable of a vision of the whole: "The scientific sense... summarizes the facts of experience on a single plane, in the horizontal. Hermeticism is not a science and will never be one. It can certainly make use of sciences and their results, but by doing so it does not become a science."

Or, one could say that profane science is the study of the relative, which is change itself. But Hermeticism is essentially the science of the changeless, which is to say, metaphysics. Metaphysics is the science of the permanent, of those things that cannot not be, for example, the Absolute, and by extension, the Infinite. Or, of Beyond-Being, and its child, Being.

Again, science can verify truth on a single plane, while the gnostic sense investigates the depth of said truth. Thus, any philosophy of naturalism can only appear to be true to the extent that one fails to ponder its depth and significance.

The moment you engage in the latter, you have disproved it, for you have revealed a vertical depth of truth and being for which naturalism can never account. You have left materialism behind. For to listen in expectant silence in the vertical space is to be "instructed by God," i.e., theodidacticism.

It is the very opposite of the infantile approach advocated by Deepak, in that it is necessary for Truth to speak to our striving for illusory power. Real change begins there, by standing up and saying, I accuse me of being an assoul.


mushroom said...

Science says, this is true. If we ask, Why? Science answers often in a very technical fashion that imitates depth while remaining in the circle on the same plane.

If someone gives a genuine answer to 'why', it will involve getting up on the sphere. Good science does that all the time, even when it denies it's up there.

mushroom said...

I guess some bad science does that, too -- only from below.

mushroom said...

"Eventually, all change starts there," by "standing up and saying 'I accuse you of injustice.'"

I did not think this was possible: I am surprised by Deepak's stupidity. The man possesses depths of stupid I never appreciated. I am shamed.

Gagdad Bob said...

In this book I'm reading on logic, Kreeft makes the point that the rules of logic are really implicit in the structure of language itself. Thus, when someone communicates as incoherently as Deepak, it is because somewhere along the line he as done violence to elementary logic. I guess New Agers don't like logic, imagining it to be confining rather than liberating.

Kreeft also spends a chapter discussing 49 material fallacies in logic. I would bet folding money that Obama committed every single one of them in his State of the Union address.

Gagdad Bob said...

If I were a masochist, I'd make a post out of it.

Gagdad Bob said...

Okay, I've stood up and accused Obama of injustice. Why then haven't I changed?

mushroom said...

Is changing the same as flushing?

mushroom said...

I won't take that bet, but if you do get to craving self-flagellation, I know we are masochists enough to read it.

Van Harvey said...

“It can still work its magic, but if you insist too much on the horizontality, it can diminish the verticality.“

Speaking of which, I mentioned a week or two ago about the changing introductions to math books over the last century, that as the quality and imaginative content of what students read and were taught, the more elaborate the introductions have become. And of course along with that, the quality, proficiency and ability of students to 'do math' has decreased.

I don't have enough yet to put a full picture together, but its interesting that at the dawn of the 'new' Rousseauian approach to education, and the mania for quantification, around 1800 there's a burst of "NEW MATH!" books that hit the western world... all of which are infinitely better than what we have today, but.... what do you suppose that that New approach discarded?

If you read the math textbook 'lights' of today, discussing

Van Harvey said...

(damn phone) ... the history of math, along with almost universally deriding the influence of christianity, they blast the mysticism of the earlier teachers (who Newton learned from... hmmm...), and especially Boethius.

True, there was much mystical mumbo jumbo surrounding math (the sort Deepak would wuv), but mostly, it was richly imaginative, filled with awe and a visual depiction of that beauty we often hear about... though from prople who look like they've never even seen pretty, let alone beauty.

That diminished verticality.... has been made the be all end all of modern Edison

Van Harvey said...

(Ahhh#!) ... education, second only to the banishment of quality imaginative literature.


Van Harvey said...

Gagdad said In this book I'm reading on logic, Kreeft makes the point that the rules of logic"

Ah, I've been debating about getting that, guess I will. And Richard Mitchell made that same point about grammar, logic & math.

And I'm feeling your pain on "Coolidge"....

Gagdad Bob said...

The logic book is frankly a little dry, which is to be expected. Nor is there anything new in it, of course. The Summa Philosophica is more fun to read.

Gandalin said...

Thanks Bob for one of your best posts. There is a lot in here of great value. Especially important (to me) is the critique of the mystical experience for its own experiential self, and the converse, the importance of grounding calculative thinking in a (religious) spiritual foundation (I'm thinking of Heidegger's Discourse on Thinking. Although his understanding of "Gelassenheit" is different from the Amish understanding.)

The demonstration that BHO uses every logical fallacy in the book would not lower his standing in the eyes of the sheeple who make up his flock, and would not be needed by those whose eyes are already open.

Gagdad Bob said...


Concur. In thinking about that last point, it must be because the "first act of mind" is concepts, only after which comes judgment and reasoning.

In other words, concepts are understood spontaneously and intuitively, so if they're wrong, even if you use perfectly sound logic with them, you'll still have messed up judgment and conclusions.

Bottom line: the left has such screwy concepts about the world and about human beings, that it is literally impossible for them to think clearly about either. It also makes one appreciate how fortunate we are to benefit from generations of human beings who were collectively wiser than we are, and who have carefully thought through their concepts, AKA Tradition.

It reminds me of Taranto's piece yesterday on the heterophobic moron at the Washington Post who thinks that the purpose of journalism is "justice and fairness" instead of truth and accuracy.

Magister said...

I've been reading a lot lately about the "natural wine" movement. Evidently many wines you see in the supermarket are brands of Gallo and a few other parent companies, are literally broken down and reassembled to spec, and contain a lot of additives. Here's the list of approved wine additives in the US:

gum arabic, acetaldehyde, activated carbon, albumen, bentonite and kaolin, ammonium phosphate, ascorbic acid, calcium carbonate, calcium pantothenate, calcium sulfate (gypsum), carbon dioxide, casein, citric acid, copper sulfate, defoaming agents (e.g. polyoxethylene 40 monostearate), dimethyl carbonate, carbohydrase, catalase, cellulase, glucose oxidase, lysozyme, pectinase, protease, urease, ethyl maltol, ferrocyanide compounds, ferrous sulfate, fumaric acid, gelatin, granular cork, isinglass, lactic acid, malic acid, malo-lactic bacteria, maltol, nitrogen gas, oak chips or particles, oxygen, polyvinyl-polypyr-rolidone (PVPP), potassium bitartrate, potassium carbonate, potassium citrate, potassium meta-bisulfite, soy flour, sulfur dioxide, tannin, tartaric acid, thiamine hydrochloride, autolyzed yeast

The counter-trend are the natural wine guys, who seek to make wine with nothing other than grapes and a little SO2 at bottling (if at all). Some of them follow Steiner and his "biodynamic" philosophy. I read a contemporary version of this philosophy by Nicolas Joly. It's a mixture of sense and kookiness, but the kookiness and pseudo-science is often mischaracterized. I think of it as more of a poetics of viticulture than an alternative science. It may even be more, i.e. amount to a gnostic posture.

In any case, what the natural wine guys are doing is trying to be more like the Empress: quiet themselves amid the vines, orient themselves vertically, and try to be transparent to "the force that through the green fuse drives the flower."

The results are often tastier than the industrial/materialist alternative.

Gagdad Bob said...

I have a feeling that the two books I just ordered on the Nature of Order are going to illuminate that perspective. They'd better -- they were expensive enough!

Gagdad Bob said...

For Christmas, the wife got me a "Beer of the Month" subscription. The newsletter that comes with the beer is hilarious, surpassing even the higher flights of oenological fancy: "a malt-driven brew with a large, pillowy head and deep toasty, bready aromas on the nose and a nutty and lightly wooded undertone with notes of lightly toasted biscuits, caramel and brown sugar sweetness on the palate. Overlaying the malts are herbal and grassy noble hop aromas and a touch of fruit hinting at apple flesh. Look also for notes of chocolate, a hint of tobacco, and some toasty nuttiness with a light hint of alcohol and a firm but not over-the-top peppery tingle, with a papery and grainy personality to the finish."

Problem is, by the time I finished that sentence the beer was already in my tummy

Magister said...


I'm the same with the vino. I come by it honestly: my grandfather made zinfandel in PA from grapes that came by train from Kookamunga. Total DIY guy, and it obviously rubbed off.

Internet is great for buying. This is another area of life in which the State System (as in PA) is a complete sham. I buy from a couple places and it's precise, competitive, and fast. Beautiful.

That Christopher Alexander sure looks interesting. It's Cambridge UP, hence the expense -- like all academic presses, they're in the crapper. I bet the initial run was no more than 500. And with color illustrations? Yikes. He probably subvented the cost to the tune of $15-20k per volume.

Gagdad Bob said...

I snagged a couple copies for only around 40 buck each used. If they don't pan out, I can always sell 'em back on amazon. It's very hard to tell from the reviews whether this guy is some kind of cosmic genius or just the Deepak of Architecture. Updates as they become available.

ted said...

In other words, concepts are understood spontaneously and intuitively, so if they're wrong, even if you use perfectly sound logic with them, you'll still have messed up judgment and conclusions.

To add some refinement to this, could we even say the concepts arise from a worldview or weltanschauung?

Also for the Nature of Order, I found some cliff notes. I'm too cheap to buy an $80 book :). If figure with that, and Bob's synopsis, I'll get the gist.

Paul Griffin said...

Funny this ( the (---), that is) should come up today, as it has been on my mind a lot lately. "Expectant" is a good word. Most seem to speak of meditation as silence for its own sake, but we should be quiet in order to better hear the still small voice...

Also somewhat related, I was reading through Flannery O'Connor's letters last night, and she mentioned to a friend that she had read Zen Catholicism, and spoke approvingly of it. I'm curious if anyone here (esp. Bob) has come across it, and if so, what they think of it.

It sounds like a bit of superfluous fluff, but Flannery was not one to speak approvingly of that sort of silliness, so my interest is piqued.

Gagdad Bob said...

Never heard of it, but it doesn't appear especially fluffy. However, since it came out in the 1960s it may be dated, what with so much more info about mystical Christianity published since then.

Van Harvey said...

Gagdad said "In other words, concepts are understood spontaneously and intuitively, so if they're wrong, even if you use perfectly sound logic with them, you'll still have messed up judgment and conclusions."

Yep. We derive and pass on Concepts with only the faintest "oh, huh, yeah that makes sense" as conceptual quality control... and that's what usually passes as being rigorously checked out.

It's the source of our greatest strength and weakness.

The whole reason we have teachers and schools is to try and clean out and tighten that up - that ours should actively pass on falsehoods to promote 'fairness'... Hell's hard at work on digging new rings in hell especially for them.

Shovel ready.

Van Harvey said...

There's a programming language that gets a lot of grief from purists, but is loved by business because it takes very little time for anyone to write programs in it, called Visual Basic. The 'worst' thing about it is a very human like feature called "On error resume next", which lets nearly any error the program might run into, to be passed on and by undetected, which lets the program could continue working. Or at least to continue working until the system gets so cluttered up with errors and eaten up memory, that it, or the entire computer, crashes.

Kinda like a severe psychological disorder.

Sometimes when I'm getting a little bit too anthropomorphic, I wonder if God didn't decided to design us like a virtual car racing game. Giving us all we need to be able to eventually build such experience and skills as to be purely amazing in the grace, speed and beauty of our driving.

But in the meantime, while waiting for that perfection, there'll be plenty of seriously awesome car crashes to keep him amused and playing along.


Gagdad Bob said...

More people have been killed by leftism than by Islam, by an order of magnitude.

julie said...

Magister - that's interesting about wine; I had no idea. Of course, I'm sure it helps that most alcoholic beverages are not required to list their ingredients on their labels.

And re. the beer description, I've often wondered if reading such things before drinking changes the experience of the drink. If you expect it to have hints of chocolate, won't you taste them regardless of whether they are actually present?

julie said...

Re. death by leftism vs. death by Islam, the latter can just as easily become a methodology (or inevitable result) of the former...

The Danish group Kaldet til Islam (Call to Islam) has introduced "Sharia-controlled zones" in which "morality patrols" of young bearded men crack down on underdressed and bibulous blondes. In the Balearic Islands, Muslims took against the local meter maids, and forced the government to withdraw them.

julie said...

In response to the Prager article, however, I must take issue with his last line: Environmentalism doesn't merely allow for human sacrifice, it requires it.

Van Harvey said...

Gagdad "The logic book is frankly a little dry..."

Of course... you're saying that to a guy who's spending his spare moments reading centuries old math textbooks... sooo... I'm betting that in comparison, Kreeft's Logic will seem like a plunge into a steaming hot tub.

With a Daiquiri.

And two snow bunnies on the side.


Christina M said...

That list of wine additives would explain why I'm becoming increasingly sensitive to wines.

I wasn't able to comment on the previous post "Liberalism is a Bitch," but the last sentence, "There is no cure for disordered love except love rightly ordered", made me think of this image which is "love rightly ordered."


She is pregnant with God the Son. The link briefly explains some of the many symbols in the image and what they would have meant to the Aztecs.

Magister said...

If you expect it to have hints of chocolate, won't you taste them regardless of whether they are actually present?

The power of suggestion can be powerful, but it's certainly possible to be true to your own experience and say, "nope, not there for me."

In my experience, complex wines (not plonk) have tastes and aromas that challenge everyday common language and experience. Really good Nebbiolo is usually described as smelling like "tar and roses." There's a bit of groupthink to that description, but in my experience, there is indeed a menthol-like smell, a floral smell, and something pleasantly "earthy" which people compare to leather, tar, etc. This doesn't sound appetizing, but trust me, you drink it with a nice plate of pasta, you'll probably have a happy wow experience.

I think when we hit these wines, we go damn, what is that? because we don't typically try to analyze and particularize tastes and smells. We just enjoy them. And frankly, much of what we eat and drink is pretty simple and good. But the constituents of a complex taste/smell are there, and sometimes we need a descriptive nudge to give us an A-HA moment where language and experience gel.

As always, some people go overboard, usually when they're trying to sell you something.

By the way, a lot of industrial wine uses particular yeasts known and bred to produce certain distinct aromas. To me, this kind of central control often results in boring drink ("mediocre art"!), but plonk doesn't aspire to be anything more. It's just alcohol delivery, and it's amazing actually that they can crank it out in such massive quantities, consistently. Twinkie wine, but man, quite an operation.

Sorry to go on a bit -- I have a fondness for the stuff.

Magister said...

a nutty and lightly wooded undertone

"Oh, I'm detecting nutty alright" - Emile the Rat

Ratatouille is a Magister House Favorite

Gagdad Bob said...

--I think when we hit these wines, we go damn, what is that?

Yes, it's the same with the hobbie/disease of audiophilia. When you listen to a good system you'll have particular perceptions. Might as well have names for them. Once you name them, they stand out more from the stream of experience.

Even so, a lot of the audio lingo means nothing to me, because, unlike with wine, who has the time and resources to listen to hundreds of different audio units for purposes of comparison?

Magister said...

Totally true.

I get insanely jealous when I see high-end speakers and systems. All I've got is a package subwoofer/satellite deal from Best Buy. I couldn't even tell you the maker. Back when I was a kid, there were all these separate components, which I loved. Now it's "you buy this thing we got from China, and that's it." Feh.

Or, geek out and spend top dollar for the stuff listed at 6moons.com. But then I wouldn't be drinking Guido Porro's delicious reds!

Ya makes your choices...

Gagdad Bob said...

Good news for frugal audiophiles -- check out this company, Emotiva. I'm sorely tempted to snag the two-channel 300 watt amp. At $799, it's a steal. No wonder they're sold out.

ge said...

Tell you what herb for my wine / Honey for my strong drink / Herb for my wine, honey for my strong drink / I'll take it easy, taking it easy / Take it easy, skanking it