Tuesday, June 04, 2013

God is a Geometer. If Geometry is Frozen Music.

One more point about chapter one of The Radiance of Being. In the course of a discussion on the meaning of infinity, Caldecott quotes the mathematician Georg Cantor, who said that "the essential nature of the infinite is one of an inherent passing-beyond itself, while the infinite is also a primal reality whose nature is participated in by all forms of being as much as they participate in the finite."

This reminds me of several hOMe truths -- or of several ways of uttering the same primordial Truth. First, it is very much reminiscent of Meister Eckhart's notion of the Godhead-ground, which ceaselessly "boils over" into creation.

McGinn describes this big boomerang as "the dynamic reciprocity of the 'flowing forth' of all things from the hidden ground of God, and the 'flowing back,' or 'breaking through,' of the universe into essential identity with this divine source."

Elsewhere Caldecott writes of how "Creation is not a change; it is a more radical beginning than that. It takes place 'outside time,' because time itself is a creature, or a dimension of created things..."

This helps to make sense of some of Eckhart's typically orthoparadoxical statements such as "Now the moment I flowed out from the Creator, all creatures stood up and shouted: 'Behold, here is God!'"

And where Cantor says that every finite participates in, or is infused with, the infinite, this reminds me of Eckhart's cracks that "Every single creature is full of God and is a book about God," and "heaven invades the earth, energizes it, makes it sacred." For "God is a great underground river that no one can dam up and no one can stop."

Furthermore, creation is not a once-upon-a-time event, but a One's-upin-his-timeless reality. Eckhart: "Now God creates all things but does not stop creating."

Rather, "God forever creates and forever begins to create." Because God's creation is necessarily fractal and holographic, the creation itself never stops creating: exploring, discovering, playing, improvising.

Speaking of which, one of the most accomplished analogues of God's creativity was surely J.S. Bach. I'm reading a fascinating book about him, and the dimensions of his creativity are, I think, literally impossible to comprehend in human terms.

You could say he was an "idiot savant" minus the idiocy, but that's just a name, not an explanation. Elie calls him "a technician of the sacred," which is a good start, if understood in light of Eckhart's above description of how heaven "invades the earth" and "makes it sacred." It certainly invaded Bach and made his music -- which is otherwise just horizontal air vibrations -- sacred.

Elie: "The music of Bach, it seems to me, is the most persuasive rendering of transcendence there is; and its irreducible otherworldliness, its impress of eternity... are there for us to encounter in our lives if we are open to them."

Elsewhere Elie quotes Albert Schweitzer, who wrote that "what speaks through [Bach's] work is pure religious emotion.... It is the emotion of the infinite and exalted, for which words are always an inadequate expression..." His are "sermons in sound" and "visions of eternity."

I think you could say that it's like music, only more so, in the sense that Bach is only capitalizing on an intrinsic capacity of music and an innate capacity of man.

In The Music of Creation, the authors write that music itself affords "a rich reservoir of models and metaphors for explicating God's continuous creative activity and presence." They attempt to develop an "image of God as the supreme Creator-Composer, the incomparable Improvisor" (you might say I-AMprovisor).

The book includes a CD with vivid examples of music-as-revelation. A couple of selections -- one by Haydyn, another by Wagner -- aurally depict not so much the Big Bang, but cosmogenesis itself, i.e., vertical creation from nothing.

This is exactly what I attempted to do, only with hyperlinguistic metalanguage, on pp. 6-17 of the book; and when writing it, I even considered providing musical recommendations to convey the same ideas.

Been awhile, so I don't recall the details, but I remember considering Steve Roach's Magnificent Void for pp. 6-7, and parts of Wayne Shorter's All Seeing Eye for pp. 12-14. And parts of Robert Rich's Rain Forest for Biogenesis.

Yeah, I'm a cretin compared a Bach appreciator, but we're not elitists here.

Gotta sign off. Have to finish some work before a dental appointment.


JP said...

"For "God is a great underground river that no one can dam up and no one can stop.""

Or control.

Although, you can always ask if you really think you need something.

I really like my music frozen.

Nothing better on a hot summer day.

Gagdad Bob said...

How about some recommendations for musical depictions of:

--Spiritual ascent


Magister said...

Trinity: Arvo Pärt, Spiegel im Spiegel
Godhead: Arvo Pärt, Berliner Messe VIII Agnus Dei
Chaos: Wayne Krantz, "War-Torn Johnny" from Krantz Carlock Lefebvre
Nothingness: Peteris Vasks, String Quartet No. 4, V. Meditation
Cosmogenesis: Perotin, Veni Creator Spiritus, Hilliard Ensemble
Biogenesis: Steve Tibbetts, "Sphexes," from Yr
Psychogenesis: J. S. Bach Partita No. 1, Gidon Kremer
Spiritual ascent: John Mayer, "Love Is a Verb," from Born & Raised
Awe: anything Olivier Latry plays at the grande orgue in Notre Dame cathedral
Union: Estrella Morente, "Moguer," from Mi Cante y un Poema
Peace: William Byrd, "Justorum animae," Cambridge Singers

Gagdad Bob said...

I was just about to mention those.

mushroom said...

John Mayer? OK.

Because God's creation is necessarily fractal and holographic ...

The fractals keep coming at me as I am studying Ezekiel, especially those creatures he saw in his initial vision. I think it will also be reflected in the temple that he sees when I get to that part.

JP said...

"Rather, "God forever creates and forever begins to create." Because God's creation is necessarily fractal and holographic, the creation itself never stops creating: exploring, discovering, playing, improvising."

We need something on mirror symmetry here.

I'm not sure what, but that's definitely a component and it ties into the fractal issue.

I mean, my body has some serious mirror symmetry going on.

Same thing with dogs.

And raccoon.

Magister said...

Golden ratio


ie, roughly 2/3
ie, trinitarian?

Magister said...

Mayer's often lost, but that song is simple, effortless, and in the right direction. Not epic, not having to be.

mushroom said...

I didn't mean to be dismissive of Mayer. I don't think I've ever heard him. I probably only heard of him because he is one of "those guys" my 40-year-old daughter listens to, so I assumed he was like Nickelback.

I am sort of ignorant when it comes to music anyway. Pre-1978, I kept up fairly well. Now I just listen to the stuff I like.