Monday, July 15, 2013

At the Cutting Edge of the Cosmos, Where the Razoraction Is

We are now up to chapter IX of the book we've been deconscrewing around with, Jesus Purusha. It is here that Davie begins to lose me a little bit, either because he is too fast or too obscure or I am too slow or too dense.

But even if the latter, I agree with Don Colacho's advice to writers (paraphrasing): torture your sentences so as to avoid torturing the reader. Yes, I'm down with making the reader think, but there's a fine line between that and just being lazy, unclear, or confused. Schuon, for example, always leaves an unsaturated space for thought, despite his verbal precision.

True, we're dealing here with ultimate issues -- technically beyond the limits of the cosmos -- so that is a valid excuse. Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Anamnesis, i.e., vertical recollection of the first two, to the point of re-Incarnation. Is it even possible to com-prehend such mysteries, or is it only possible to part-icipate in them via the mode of faith? How much can we know before the living knowledge begins congealing from a fragrant encounter to a smelly little ideology?

In his last book -- appropriately dictated on his death bed, at life's limits -- Voegelin addresses just this problematic:

"As I am putting down these words on an empty page I have begun to write a sentence that, when it is finished, will be the beginning of a chapter on certain problems of Beginning.

"The sentence is finished. But is it true?

"The reader does not know whether it is true before he has finished reading the chapter.... Nor do I know at this time, for the chapter is yet unwritten.... [T]he story has no beginning before it has come to its end. What then comes first: the beginning or end?"

Voegelin answers his own question with the only possible orthoparadoxical response:

"Neither the beginning nor the end comes first. The question rather points to a whole, to a thing called 'chapter,' with a variety of dimensions."

Among others, a chapter has "a dimension of meaning, [which is] neither spatial nor temporal, in the existential process of the quest for truth in which both the reader and writer are engaged. Is then the whole, with its spatiotemporal and existential dimensions, the answer to the question: what comes first?"

We'll come back to that question, but note how the sentence points to the incomplete chapter, the chapter to the unfinished book, the book to the unknown -- or is it somehow known? -- whole, which must be "present" to both writer and reader.

This actually goes to the whole structure of being-consciousness in its relation to the thing we call "history" -- the latter of which being the human stream of being-consciousness as it reveals itself in time.

You could say that the (human) beginning begins precisely with this recognition of participation in the greater whole. For example, where in Genesis it says: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, this is not about God's beginning, but about our beginning in relation to him, or to O, if you prefer. It is a statement about the absolute limit of what we may know about the "beginning." Attempting to go beyond it will only generate paradox and absurdity, i.e., "what was before time?", or "what is outside space?"

So, when Jesus affirms that he is Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, he is suggesting something fraught with metaphysical implications. In a way, he is providing the answer to -- or at least way to think about -- the question, "what is before the beginning and after the end?"

With this prelude in mind, perhaps we are in a better position to understand Davie. For example, we could say that Incarnation represents a beginning of sorts, a horizontal beginning that ends in Crucifixion.

However, these then point before and beyond themselves, to pre-existence on the one hand ("before Abraham was, I am") and to Resurrection. But what comes first? Or is it a single flowing whole vertically encompassing self-sacrificing generation and rebirth?

Don't ask me. The post isn't finished.

Maybe this passage by Davie will illuminate the discussion: in the Crucifixion, "where Jesus hangs, the true center lies. In the pause between upward and downward breath, we are being created: in the pause between Crucifixion and Resurrection there is a cessation, a suspension, of creation. And in that pause, God is abandoning his very Self, abandons the universe to the internal collapse which it must suffer in his absence: for Jesus knows, in the cry of dereliction from the Cross, what it would be like if there were no God."

Or, to put it another way, if this were the END, full stop. If it is the end, then this confers absolute meaninglessness on everything that has preceded it and everything that will follow. It is absolute nihil, nada, zilch, bupkis. A cosmic shutout, with no runs, no hits, and no errors (for there can be no errors in the absence of God).

Thus, "Jesus consents to die in order that our humanity shall no longer be separated from his. In the cry of dereliction from the Cross," Jesus throws himself on the live grenade and "suffers the death of all men, the death of the universe. He takes the supreme risk of love, and that risk is the 'awful daring,' not of a moment's, but an eternity's surrender" (emphasis mine).

Why my emphasis? Because it goes precisely to our question of what is before the beginning and after the end, and therefore reveals the wholeness that conditions both of these human limits.

So: "Must we not say that there is an eternal Passion of Creation enacted in the unfolding drama of the universe, and a temporal Passion of Redemption which is the enactment in time of that eternal Passion; and yet that there are not two Passions, but one?"

I don't know. The book isn't finished. Or is it? You might say that the end occurs somewhere in the suspended tick of time between p. 266 and p. 7.

Which is pretty much where the previous 2,186 posts have come from. Yeah, born again, and there's not a damn thing I can do about it.


mushroom said...

This reminds me again of that last verse in the Gospel of John. The books are still being written.

It's interesting, too, that in crucifixion, death comes by suffocation. The only rest on the cross is that moment between breaths before the victim has to push himself back up to inhale.

Gagdad Bob said...

Good point -- a reverse parallel to God breathing the breath of life into Adam.

Gagdad Bob said...

Re the unwritten books still being written -- Davie makes the point that even the Gospels don't prove the the truth of the Resurrection, but vice versa -- that the Resurrection proves the truth of the Gospels. In other words, no Resurrection, no Gospels.

son of a preacher man said...

"In other words, no Resurrection, no Gospels."

Once over heard a wiccan chick opine that she would believe in Christianity if you could produce the bones of Jesus.

My first thought was, so you would put faith in a religion that was proven false?

julie said...

Ah, so when He said, "It is finished," in a sense that was the point where the serpent bites its tail...

Rick said...

Wicci Chick proves everyone is a theologian. And that some of us put almost no effort into it.

But she does remind me that there was a time when I did not know that the fact of the existence of Jesus was supported by sources outside the gospel accounts, speaking of no bones to pick...
What is argued is who Peter said He is.

Bones of Jesus recalls an episode of All in the Family when Archie didn't believe a guy who said he made up a joke. Archie said, "Nobody makes up jokes. They read them in magazines."
What a useless piece of information: "These are the bones of Jesus."

Joan of Argghh! said...

I am struck with the thought that God dwells outside of all tenses but the present one. He messes with us, Moses and the pharisees with, I AM; getting inside our heads, pulling our thoughts off-center.

Even to say, "In the beginning was" is to leave language behind for a deeper excursion into the whole.

Joan of Argghh! said...

*waves to other raccoons*

julie said...

Would that be ocean waves or hand waves? ;)

And yes, just so.