Friday, March 01, 2013

Substance-in-Relation & Some Dunce Ruining the Nation

A plurality that cannot be integrated into unity is chaos; unity unrelated to plurality is tyranny. --Pascal

We already discussed Letter V, the Pope, so we're moving on to Letter VI, The Lover.

For Tomberg, the central theme of this card is the vow of chastity, esoterically understood. For "one is chaste only when one loves with the totality of one's being." Therefore, there is no true love in the absence of chastity -- and vice versa.

Chastity is the living unity and wholeness in being whereby body, soul, and spirit become one -- not through a merger that effaces differences but through a harmony that... harmonizes them. This is not uniformity but unity. It is the return of the many to the One, both in oneself and with the other, the former via the latter, meaning that, ironically, it takes two to be at one. (Technically three, but we'll get to that later.)

The bottom line is that two's company and three's a cloud. By which I apparently mean that a cloud has no discrete boundaries except from a distance. Inside the cloud, boundaries become blurry and indistinct. One cloud merges with another. Likewise,

"There is a difference between spiritual things and bodily things. Every spiritual thing can dwell in another." And "Where I am, there God is; and then I am in God, and where God is, there I am" (Eckhart). When wholeness comes, the partial vanishes (1 Cor. 13:10).

As usual, the psychospiritual left embodies a direct inversion of this two-in-oneness principle. For instead of beginning with the individual-seeking-unity, it is in perpetual rebellion against the individual. Rather, it posits the exterior collective -- i.e., the benevilant state -- whereby our fragmentation and alienation are "cured." Remember last year's DNC? The State is the only thing to which we all belong! Or else.

Taken to its logical extreme, such a cure represents "perfect integration through perfect fragmentation. That is, the perfect unity of the state requires the utter destruction of all autonomous social bonds, rendering each individual more isolated and powerless..." (Taylor). It is as if the left grinds humanity to dust, molds this desiccated clay into its new-and-improved man, and then breaths the spirit of Marx into him.

The critical point is that our drive toward unity can become as perverse and pathological as any other drive. The secular left creates a unity alright, but it is a physical unity only, a reduction to uniform matter and thus no unity of soul or spirit.

Which is why leftism always yields to the totalitarian temptation, for every free thinker is a reminder that this faux unity has not been achieved. It is why they hate Fox News, why they have campus speech codes, why they are tossing Bob Woodward under the bus, and why they enforce political correctness more generally.

Tomberg writes that "to feel something as real in the measure of its full reality is to love." Obviously, it is no coincidence that Genesis discusses human sexuality in terms of knowledge. Is the Torah simply confused on this matter? Or perhaps disclosing a reality from which the tenured have exiled themselves?

Imagine a typically prudish "human sexuality" class that leaves out the very reality without which sexuality is not human. Obviously, there is no need to imagine it, because the purpose of all leftist ideology is to demoralize and make us less than what we are, which is to say, human (in the full sense of the term -- body-soul-spirit).

Rightly ordered love -- like any other human activity -- has an end, a telos. To pretend that this telos is no different from any other animal is to live in an infrahuman fantasy world.

To love someone is to begin the process of knowing a person in their full reality. The operative word is begin, for as Bion theorized, love is a link (L) between subjects. It merely gets the party started. Until we forge that link, the Other is not really real, just a piece of psychic furniture.

Now, matter is obviously a kind of "one," but represents an inverted doctrine of spiritual oneness. This material oneness is the false unity that inspires the left, and is the basis of their first political principle, i.e., "what's yours is mine," or "you work, I eat."

How do we escape the prison of our narcissism? Primarily through love, because love partakes of being, which is intersubjective right down to the ground. Being is substance-in-relation, or self-communicating love. And participation in this movement of love is "the very rhythm of Being" (Norris).

Here is how John Paul II once expressed it: "Let us have no illusions: unless we follow this spiritual path, external structures of communion will serve very little purpose. They would become mechanisms without soul, 'masks' of communion rather than its means of expression and growth." Real communion is a dynamic unity that "unites persons one to the other in a cause greater than themselves" (ibid.).

Tomberg writes that there are two principle methods of overcoming our cosmic narcissism, generally corresponding to eastern and western religions (although each has both; it is merely a matter of emphasis).

The first is obliteration of the illusory ego, so that one becomes a "shadow among shadows." This is the "equality of indifference." If the separate "I" doesn't exist, then we're all one. Being that the ego is the ultimate illusion, just vanquish that illusion, and the doors of perception are cleansed (although nobody's oming behind the door).

The above approach to circumnavelgazing the soul strikes an unbiblical chord in us. We prefer the other way, which is to extend the love that one has for oneself to other beings. Instead of "me dead, you dead," it's "me living, you living" -- i.e., extend the vertical horizontally, and love the neighbor as oneself.

Now, this is difficult to do. Obviously. But you don't try to do it all at once. Rather, you start with a small circle, and then gradually widen the circle. Start at the center, not the periphery. Try loving your neighbor before The Planet. Again, the left begins at the periphery. Obama is the great Unifier. But what kind of unity is it that doesn't even recognize my real existence? I'm not some ant in the leftist hive:

"When a Marxist says 'power to the people,' he isn't talking about actual people.... It takes no time at all to realize that Marxists and their intellectual offspring have no use for actual people in general, and only one use for 'actual people' who do want what they're supposed to want. They treat them like pets."

Tomberg returns to Genesis, where God says that "it is not good that Adam should be alone," which is to say that "it is not good that man should love nobody but his lonesome." And God wasn't just ribbing, for he then creates the complementary other, who is actually of the same substance as Adam, even a part of himself. To love is to recognize the prior unity: "In the beginning there was only one love and its source was one, since its principle is one." (Recall again that the one being is substance-in-relation.)

Again, love has to do with the recovery of higher unity, not the imposition of a lower uniformity. This is a key point. Tomberg agrees that this reality is precisely inverted by the left, but also by old-fashioned Freudianism.

In the case of the left, it elevates economic interest to all. In the case of Freud, he elevated the sexual instinct to all. You might say that the left reduces everything to the first chakra, Freudianism to the second. And both are entirely compatible with materialism, scientism, and metaphysical Darwinism, which attempt to account for the top by reducing it to the bottom. That's not love. It is hate. Hatred of reality.

Naturalism is not so much a love of matter as a rejection of, or inability to apprehend, that which transcends it. This is why Obama feels that the founders erred in writing a constitution that made it such a hassle for him to appropriate our stuff and give it to others, or why his pal Bill Ayers feels he "didn't do enough" back in his days as a loving domestic terrorist. But he shouldn't worry. As an "educational reformer," he's destroying more young souls than he could ever have hoped to as a bomb-tossing psychopath.

Only a culpably self-deluded fool cannot perceive the hatred that drives Obama and the spiritually cancerous movement he represents.

Just as there is one God in three Persons..., we are all "members of one another"; there is, and we are called to become, a single Man in a multitude of persons. --Olivier Clement


Dougman said...

"A plurality that cannot be integrated into unity is chaos; unity unrelated to plurality is tyranny. --Pascal"

As Jesus was one of the
that called on
and chose
of which
was the Elect,
And One
of G_D

Interesting progression

mushroom said...

Try loving your neighbor before The Planet.

They can't do it. It's like racism turned inside out. The left loves "African-Americans", but they could care less about the damage they do to individual black people -- many of whom are good and decent Christians -- their stupid policies impact. They don't care that it was LBJ's War on Poverty that destroyed the black family, that drove men from the house, and results to this day in young black men being incarcerated at an astronomical rate.

They blame it on "racism". I could give a rip about the African-American "race". There is no such thing. But some of my best friends are black -- that's been turned into an attack, proof that I'm a racist. It's true. One of the best friends I've ever had is a black guy. Last time I saw him, after we hadn't met for years, he ran up to me in a mall and hugged me. I love the guy. Is he a typical black person? No. I don't think there is such a thing any more than I think there is a typical white person.

Another thing on which Obama and I disagree.

Dougman said...


And One
of G_D

For All

Dougman said...

I'm thinking there is something wrong with my "Vision" Doc

Gagdad Bob said...

Don Colacho: "In order to exploit a man peacefully it is convenient to reduce him beforehand to sociological abstractions.... Sociology is the ideology of indifference to our neighbor."

ted said...

Sociology is the ideology of indifference to our neighbor.

I can't tell you how many I've met who care about some starving child in Africa they never met, and at the same time, dread being around their own family or people from their hometown.

Gagdad Bob said...

"In order to enslave the people, the politician needs to convince them that all their problems are 'social.'"


"Social salvation is near when each one admits that he can only save himself. Society is saved when its presumed saviors despair." --DC

mushroom said...

...and at the same time, dread being around their own family ...

Ted, are we including in-laws here? And, also, does it count if my family dreads being around me?

mushroom said...

I always wondered why they called it a social disease.

ted said...

Shroom, In-laws are always exempt from the love-fest.

And your family just doesn't get you like we do :).

Gagdad Bob said...

Another relevant aphorism from DC: "Love is the act that transforms its object from a thing into a person."

julie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
River Cocytus said...

In laws don't count... I mean, some folks you have genuine differences with (but you eventually figure out how to get along with, maybe.)

Look at the divorce rate and tell me who's 'getting along' and 'spreading the love'. In this analogy, it's not us (alas.) Its... the Victorians?

Jack said...

An interview with Schall.

Gagdad Bob said...

Newt's analysis of our predicament strikes me as accurate but deeply depressing, because it implies that in order to compete with liberals we must think and behave like liberals. Shudder.

Gagdad Bob said...


What a great interview with Schall. A Raccoon Priest, right down to the sanctity of slack and the necessity of Wodehouse.

Jack said...


Schall being the kind of professor I would have loved to take a course from back in my college days.

In his spirit I've been attempting to put together a short reading list for a lefty friend. Something like a top ten list of books by which to return to Reality.

So far:

1. Plato: Euthyphro; The Apology; Crito; Pheado.

2. Sowell: Basic Economics

3. Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov

4. McInerny: Being Logical

That's all I've got so far. Would love to hear suggestions.

Jack said...

5. Twenge/Campbell: The Narcissism Epidemic.

Gagdad Bob said...

I haven't read Prager's Still the Best Hope, but I'll bet it would help. After all, he's the one who finally nailed me.

Van Harvey said...

Jack, try this ,

"A Student's Guide to
Liberal Learning
by James V. Schall, S.J."

The whole series is pretty good.

Van Harvey said...

Wo, they used to all be free... I printed them all out into a binder years ago, I wonder if I've still got the .pdf's....

Jack said...

GB and Van-

Those are great suggestions. Thank you. I will add them to the list.

I just started E.F. Schumacher's "A Guide for the Perplexed" which is off of one of Schall's reading lists.
So far, looks like a keeper.

Gagdad Bob said...

Related to this post: Benedict and the Rabbi.

julie said...

Good article. I love this summation:

"A rabbi, writing in Paris, defends Judaism’s traditional notion of marriage. This essay is read and cited in Latin by a Catholic leader and thinker in Rome, who from the very beginning of his papacy exhibited a deep interest in Jewish thinking about love and marriage. The pope’s endorsement thereby leads to the translation of the essay by a Mormon philosopher living in Utah. The essay is then exposed to diverse communities of faith in the English-speaking world."

I can't help thinking that's how a universal church comes about - not through a merger that effaces differences but through a harmony that... harmonizes them.

Appropriately, the publishing date on that article is tomorrow, March 4th...

Gagdad Bob said...

Here is the Rabbi's article. Excellent point: no one has a "right" to a child. Rather a child has a right to a mother and father.

Gagdad Bob said...

From the article:

"Because of his sexual identity, each person is referred beyond himself. From the moment a person becomes conscious of his sexual identity, he is thus confronted with a kind of transcendence. The person is required to think beyond himself and to acknowledge the independent existence of an inaccessible other—that is, of one who is essentially related to himself and desirable yet never wholly comprehensible.

The experience of sexual difference thus becomes the model for all experiences of transcendence; it designates an indissoluble relation with an absolutely inaccessible reality. On this basis we can understand why the Bible so readily uses the relation between man and woman as a metaphor for the relation between G-d and man: not because G-d is masculine and man is feminine but because it is man’s sexual duality that most clearly manifests an unsurpassable otherness within the closest relation.

"It is significant that, in the Bible, sexual difference is mentioned just after the affirmation of the fact that man is in the image of G-d. This means that sexual difference is embedded in this image and thus blessed by G-d. Sexual difference must therefore be understood as a fact of nature infused with spiritual intentions."

Gagdad Bob said...

"The second account of creation deepens this teaching by presenting the act of creation of the woman in the form of a surgical operation by which G-d extracts the one who will become Adam’s companion from what is most intimate to him. Henceforth, neither man nor woman will make up the whole of humanity, and neither one will know all that is human. This expresses a double finitude: I am not everything; I am not even all that is human; and I do not know all that is human: The other sex always remains partly unknowable to me. This double finitude implies that self-sufficiency is impossible for a human being. This limitation is not a privation but a gift that allows for the discovery of the love that springs from wonder in the face of difference.

"Through desire man discovers sexual difference at the heart of nature. “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” Openness to this other leads to self-discovery as complementary difference: “She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” In Hebrew, “one flesh” refers to “the One,” Ehad—the divine name par excellence, according to the Shema: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord is G-d, the Lord is one.” It is in this union, which is at once carnal and spiritual, a union made possible by difference and by complementary sexual orientation, that man and woman reproduce, in the created order, the image of the One G-d."

Gagdad Bob said...

Then he beautifully links it all to our Primordial Calamity :

"As a counterpoint, the third chapter of Genesis presents sin as the refusal of limitation and therefore of difference: “For G-d knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be as gods, knowing good and evil.” “The tree of knowledge of good and evil”—“the tree of knowing good and knowing evil”—symbolizes precisely the two ways of apprehending the limit. First, “good knowing” respects otherness and accepts the fact of not knowing all and consents to not being all. This way of knowing opens toward love and therefore toward “the tree of life” planted by G-d in the middle of the garden. Second, “evil knowing” refuses limits and difference. It eats the other in the hope of reconstituting the whole within the self and of acquiring omniscience. This refusal of the relation of otherness leads to greed and envy, to violence, and ultimately to death.

"Isn’t this what is implied in the notion of gender: the refusal of otherness, of difference, and the demand to take on sexual behaviors independent of sexual difference, the first gift of nature? Is this not, in other words, the pretension to “know” the woman as the man, to become the whole of humanity, to emancipate oneself from all natural conditions, and therefore “to become as gods”?"

Gagdad Bob said...

Julie -- maybe you'll relate to this, but one of the joys of parenting for Leslie is the ongoing joy of discovering just how different boys are from girls. We meet so many parents who don't truly appreciate boys, and more generally, as we know, the culture has become appallingly anti-boy. But the devaluation of sexual differences is a necessary consequence of leftist ideology. It's a real attack on Man as such, and demonic to the core.

Gagdad Bob said...

I love the idea that to "become as God" is to become male-and-female (which is really nothing) instead of male OR female....

Gagdad Bob said...

Roger Kimball interview on youboobtube.

julie said...

Bob @ 7:38 - yes, he puts that so well; it's a point that seems to be completely overlooked in all the arguments.

julie said...

Re. the difference between boys and girls, I'm with Leslie. L is such a boy, and I can't imagine trying to repress that or change him into some sort of softer, feminized creature. His new thing this week has been naming his toys (trains and trucks) the "mommy" and "daddy"; then he drives them around and crashes them into things.

His sister, on the other hand, is already very different - more focused on faces and being social, much more vocal, etc. Partly of course it's just essentially different personalities, but there is also clearly a male-female difference as well.

julie said...

Off topic, but apropos Magister's discussion of wines last weekend, at Ace's there's a reasonable argument that is incidentally in favor of modern wine-making techniques:

"Most of those “single vineyard” designations on the high-priced bottles at the wine store are ways to isolate interesting (to the wine-maker and his accountant) flavor profiles that may or may not appeal to the vast majority of consumers. And it gets worse. Many of those flavors are an artifact of wine-making techniques from the Middle Ages, primarily from France, the land of the under-ripe grape. Don't believe me? There is an accepted aroma profile called 'cat pee.'"

If that's natural wine, I'll take the processed stuff, thanks...

Sal said...

After "Guide for the Perplexed", you might try Schall's "The Order of Things". It's "Guide" expanded and deeper.

Too parochial maybe, but if you need something on why people are not things- Carryl Houselander's "Way of the Cross".