Friday, May 03, 2013

The Birds & the 'Bats

Meditations on the Tarot has a lengthy account of the nature of guardian angels. It's pretty straightforward, and I don't want to just rewordgitate what Tomberg says. All I can really add is that if you don't think you have a guardian angel, just fake it for awhile. There is no one lonelier than an angel with nothing to do.

Out of curiosity, I looked it up on wikipedia, and it says that "A guardian angel is an angel assigned to protect and guide a particular person or group.... Christian mystics have at times reported ongoing interactions and conversations with their guardian angels, lasting several years."

I also just read in Gilson that "Angels are creatures whose existence can be demonstrated," and that "To disregard them destroys the balance of the universe considered as a whole."

Tomberg writes that "The Angel depends on man in his creative activity. If the human being does not ask for it, if he turns away from him, the Angel has no motive for creative activity. He can then fall into a state of consciousness where all his creative geniality remains in potential and does not manifest. It is a state of vegetation or 'twilight existence' comparable to sleep from the human point of view. An Angel who has nothing to exist for is a tragedy in the spiritual world."

I'm just going to reflect on whatever strikes my attention, such as the following: "the formation of wings" depends upon "a current from above [read: (↓)] which moves to meet that from below [(↑)]. Wings are formed only when the two currents -- that of human endeavor and that of grace -- meet and unite." Thus, identical to the manner in which earthly wings are formed by natural selection, the need evokes the function.

Tomberg goes on to say that all forms of radical secularism "can create only the wings of Icarus." I am immediately reminded of Michael Novak's outstanding On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding, in that our Fathers -- perhaps because they were listening to the counsel of their better angels -- got the formula exactly right for our extraordinary national flight of the past two and a quarter centuries.

As always, when we say that the left in general and Obama in particular are "anti-American," we do not mean it in an insulting or polemical way. Rather, we mean it in this precise way: that the left explicitly wishes to clip one of our wings, which, as God is my witness, will cause us to plummet to the ground like bags of wet cement, no different than any other turkey of a nation.

When the flightless birds of the left squawk about "separation of church and state," what they really mean is the violent dismemberment of one of our wings. It makes no more sense than cutting off the thumb to spite our hand. The hand will remain, but it won't be able to grasp much, just as the single-winged bipeds of the left are unable to achieve vertical liftoff. It has nothing to do with politics, but with a pre-political choice. The politics follows logically from the anterior soph-mutilation.

True, the leftist may develop wings of a sort, but we all recognize these appendages for what they are, for they are "the wings of a bat, i.e., those of darkness which are organs by means of which one can plunge into the depths of darkness" (Tomberg).

These are the worldly wings that allow them to navigate through their dark and dreadful 'batmosphere, AKA the Culture of Death. Most contemporary art and literature is of this nature, which is why the autists who produce it cannot soar upward but only can sink downward and confuse it with flight (which it is, until one hits bottom). The Waste Land comes to mind:

And bats with baby faces in the violet light / Whistled, and beat their wings / And crawled head downward down a blackened wall / And upside down in air were towers / Tolling reminiscent bells, that kept the hours / And voices singing out of empty cisterns and exhausted wells.

Yes moonbatman, you may flip and flap your two vestigial left wings of hope and change, but you will never achieve true flight, for there is no such thing as a free launch. Rather, you will simply turn on your own axis in a tight little spiral, and then drill down into the abyss. Nor will you grow, for you are trying to subsist on your own waste, incessantly churned out by the media-university complex.

Our "vastly enlarged perspectives of knowledge should open up fresh vistas of religious faith" (Eliot), not close off the frontier of unKnowing. Remember, human knowledge is like a little expanding circle placed in the center of Being. Thus, the more we extend our boundaries, the greater the area we do not know. In the past, the problem was a paucity of knowledge. For us, a surfeit. Much of the latter needs to be tossed overboard in order to leave the ground and soar upward.

Russell Kirk writes that no Christian belief is "more neglected today... than the concept of guardian angels," which is "no less credible than many other dogmas which Eliot had learned to accept.... Imperfect though it may be, evidence for the existence of intermediary spiritual beings is no less intelligible than the proofs for various theories of natural science.... [F]or him, there was nothing repugnant or incredible in conceiving of tutelary beings of another order than human."

Hey, why not? Kirk mentions Yeats, "who believed that some great dead man watches over every passionate living man of talents." I believe this. I believe that through a kind of "passionate resonance," we may enter the interior mansion of a great person and borrow a portion of his precious mʘjʘ. Greater men than I just steal it.

As I sit here at this moment, I have several iconic photographs and pneumagraphic icons sitting on my desk, so I may look to them for a little cosmic inspiration (↓) -- or be scared straight up if need be. You really do become what you venerate; or, what you spontaneously venerate reveals your true nature.

Which is again why the unreal ideologies of the left are so spiritually catastrophic. Should one truly believe and assimilate those worthless braindroppings, one ends up batshit crazy.

Who are those hooded hordes swarming / Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth / Ringed by the flat horizon only / What is the city over the mountains / Cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air / Falling towers / Jerusalem Athens Alexandria / Vienna London / Unreal --Eliot

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Trinocular Myopathy and Freewheeling Angelology

Kind of longish, but probably no post tomorrow...

Let's move on to Letter XIV, Temperance, which may sound a little boring -- like some kind of lukewarm neutrality -- but it is not. In fact, one of Josef Pieper's best books is on The Cardinal Virtues. In it he shows how temperance is critical to our navigating, both horizontally and vertically (i.e., in the natural and transnatural worlds). Here, I'll let this amazon reviewer explain why, while I take a sip of coffee:

"Today, temperance is associated with bodily pleasures, but the classic [understanding of] temperance included spiritual temperance as well, such as the virtue that regulates the desire for knowledge ('studiositas') as compared to the pathological need for sense perception which is the vice of 'curiositas.' It is a worthwhile exercise to read the section on temperance to see how moderate St. Thomas Aquinas and the Catholic tradition are when they recognize that virtue is the means between two antipodal vices."

In other words, "Even a disordered turning toward the goods of the world is not necessarily a mortal sin if it does not involve a turning away from God." Conversely, "Even fasting can be a sin if done too strenuously, because it is against reason to overtax nature. Modern libertines, who can only imagine an either/or world -- either all sexual activity is good or we face a world of totalitarian repression by 'prudes' -- would benefit from seeing the nuance that comes from looking at the world as if it had three dimensions, not two..."

Or, one could say that there is a proper balance between both horizontal and vertical extremes -- like the center of a cross or something.

Tomberg says as much, writing that Temperance is the card of "integrated duality," which is actually rather thrilling, since it accounts for most of the tension and drama on the vertical plane. Without this tension, life would be a bit of a snooze. You will have noticed how all these tiresome "artists" are parasitic on a reality which they need to be there in order to transgress.

Most of us get this out of our system by the age of three, and then move on. Others forsake temperance in favor of an imbalanced, reactionary pose. But there is nothing transgressive -- not to mention brave -- about, for example, making a pro-homosexual movie in Hollywood. Likewise, if Madonna really wants to be transgressive, she might begin by putting those worn out things away for a change. {Shudder}

To exist is to live amidst polarity and tension, the penultimate tension being the distance between image and likeness (the ultimate being creature and God, or relative and Absolute). It is this that creates the dynamic potential to transcend ourselves and "become what we are." The narrowing of this gap is the objective measure of our lives. And if not for the Great Attractor that draws us beyond (and toward) ourselves, our lives really would be a vicious and inescapable duality. Coming down on one side or the other would essentially be arbitrary, plus there would be no way to move beyond that. It would be de Sade on one end and d' Buddha on the other, with nothing in between.

As Tomberg explains, the image represents our essential structure, while likeness represents the functional structure; the former is "timeless," while the latter can only be deployed in time. The image is indestructible and responsible for our freedom, since it is a spark of the Absolute.

But the immortality of the likeness is "optional," so to speak, in that "it is immortal only in proportion to the measure that it conforms to its image." For a variety of reasons, many people choose Death. But to paraphrase the outlaw Josey Wales, "dyin' ain't much of a living," for it is analogous to choosing prison for the image while imagining that the likeness roams free. But this results only in freedom for the me (or a self-created ego/image), not the I -- the object and not the true subject.

Tomberg then goes into an extended meditation on the metaphysics of angels, which, in the overall scheme of things, might be thought of as personifications of (↑) and (↓); in other words, they are "vertical emissaries," so to speak. Rabbi Steinsaltz's classic Thirteen Petalled Rose contains one of the most clear and concise explanations of angelology I've ever found, and it is very much compatible with what Tomberg has to say. In fact, here is something I wrote about it several years ago:

"Steinsaltz notes that the soul [read: image] should not be thought of as a 'point' in space time. Rather, it is 'a continuous line of spiritual being, stretching from the general source of all the souls [O] to beyond the specific body of a particular person.... and because the soul is not a single point in space, it should be viewed not as a single existence having one quality or character, but as many existences, on a variety of spiritual levels...'

In the past, I have playgiarized with Alan Watts' analogy of a lampshade with many pinprick holes in it. From the outside it will look as if there are many "local" individual lights, but in reality, they are all coming from a single nonlocal source.

In another way, it's analogous to progressive bifocals, which change the focal point depending upon where you direct your eyes. Look up through the bottom, and things that are near become out of focus; look down through the top, and the distant becomes blurry. So many errors of scientism result from looking through the wrong end of the bifocals! And they've never even heard of trifocals.

Steinsaltz discusses the distinction between the vertical and horizontal, which for me is the essence of any spiritual metaphysic. Obviously, in speaking of the vertical, of the qualitatively higher and lower, he is not speaking of an actual physical location. Vertically speaking, "to call a world higher signifies that it is more primary, more basic in terms of being close to a primal source of influence; while a lower world would be a secondary world -- in a sense, a copy."

Thus, viewed horizontally, we may trace the material cosmos back to a primordial event some 13.7 billion years ago. But this is only a horizontal explanation. Traditional metaphysics deals with the vertical causation of the cosmos, which is what confuses some people. Irrespective of whether the cosmos had a beginning in time (which it appears to have had), it is still dependent on God, and not self-explanatory.

From the vertical perspective, this world is indeed a copy, as are human beings, of a divine prototype. The Logos might be thought of as the model of all things, the nexus between the divine mind above and the creation here below. Looked at in this manner, the inexplicable beauty of the world is not somehow the outcome of horizontal cause and effect, which would be a ridiculous assertion. Rather Beauty is a fundamental cause of the cosmos (among other nonlocal causes, such as Love and Truth).

Because of the ubiquitous vertical and horizontal influences, every aspect of human existence is made up of both matter and spirit. While we are fundamentally spiritual, we are unavoidably material, which sets up a host of, er, interesting tensions and conflicts. The fall -- or exile, if you like -- is indeed a vertical one, a declension from the divine repose of celestial slack, down to this world of toil, conflict, uncertainty, and ambiguity.

Steinsaltz writes that an angel is simply a "messenger" constituting a point of contact "between our world of action and the higher worlds. The angel is the one who effects transfers of the vital plenty between worlds. An angel's missions go in two directions: it may serve as an emissary of God downward..., and it may also serve as the one who carries things upwards from below, from our world to the higher worlds."

I ran it by Petey, but he was, I don't know, noncommittal. But that's not unusual. It's more like he's disinterested, or at least pretends to be. The roll of the eyes, the impatient, audible exhalation, the way his little wings flutter, as if he's got something better to do....

At any rate, here's what he said:

"Blah blah, I'm here, but I'm not here. How to explain.... I'm always here in the same sense that all 200 or whatever it is crappy TV stations are always streaming into your house. They're what we might call 'implicate.' But you can only tap into one station at a time -- assuming you don't have picture-in-picture, which is a little like schizophrenia, or mind parasites -- thereby making a part of the implicate explicate.

"The multidimensional implicate order is anterior to the explicate order, so that what you solid folk call 'consensus reality' is more of a mutual agreement to limit the implicate order in a certain way. It's all about power, or about managing existential anxiety, not getting at the Truth. If you want to get at the Truth, you're going to have to tolerate the anxiety of not knowing, not make the anxiety go away with some stupid scientistic-materialistic nonsense.

"You know the old crack -- 'if the doors of perception were cleansed, then everything would appear as it is, infinite.' It is such a childish conceit for humans to imagine their puny minds can encompass the generative reality that generatively produces and encompasses them!

"Yes, there are higher and lower worlds. I guess this isn't obvious to a leftist, but if any of you saw those Occupy Wall Street encampments, you know all about people who inhabit a lower world. Their language, their music, their feelings, their hygiene, their childish understanding -- all emanate from a lower world. Ironically, most of them aren't even from the earth plane, but a notch or two below that.

"The point I'm making is that the words high and low refer only to the place of any particular world on the ladder of causality. 'To call a world higher signifies that it is more primary, more basic in terms of being close to a primal source of influence; while a lower world would be a secondary world -- in a sense, a copy. Yet the copy is not just an imitation but rather a whole system, with a more or less independent life of its own, its own variety of experience, characteristics and properties' (Steinsaltz).

"This is why the flatlanders can become so enclosed in their absurcular delusions. In a way, their worldview is complete (on its own level), and yet, it's radically incomplete (with regard to the whole).

"If you have stayed with me this far, then you will understand that, just as there are evil beings, there are evil worlds. These are simply the 'space' inhabited by the evil beings. Wisdom too is a space, or 'mansion.' Also creativity, love, beauty, peace. You can sense it when you enter one of these houses of the holy. You can also sense it when you are near one of those demon haunted McMansions of the left.

"Enough malevolent wishes and wicked deeds, and pretty soon you have created a closed world, cut off from the divine influence. As Steinsaltz describes it, 'the sinner is punished by the closing of the circle, by being brought into contact with the domain of evil he creates.... as long as man chooses evil, he supports and nurtures whole worlds and mansions of evil, all of them drawing upon the same human sickness of the soul.... as the evil flourishes and spreads over the world because of the deeds of men, these destructive angels become increasingly independent existences, making up a whole realm that feeds on and fattens on evil.'

"Being that I was once an ordinary embodied and enmentalled man, just like you, prior to the farming accident, I feel that I am fit to pronounce on these subjects. Human beings live in a world of physical 'action,' and imagine that this is where all the action is. Not true.

"Allow me to explain. Or better yet, allow Steinsaltz to explain: 'The lower part of the world of action is what is known as as the "world of physical nature" and of more or less mechanical processes -- that is to say, the world where natural law prevails; while above this world of physical nature is another part of the same world which we may call the "world of spiritual action."

"What these two realms have in common is the action of Man, since 'the human creature is so situated between them that he partakes of both. As part of the physical system of the universe, man is subordinate to the physical, chemical, and biological laws of nature; while from the standpoint of his consciousness, even while this consciousness is totally occupied with matters of a lower order, man belongs to the spiritual world, the world of ideas.... Every aspect of human existence is therefore made up of both matter and spirit.'

"It is my nature to be a 'messenger, to constitute a permanent contact between [your] world of action and the higher worlds. The angel is the one who effects transfers of the vital plenty between worlds.'

"'An angel's missions go in two directions: it may serve as an emissary of God downward, to other angels and to creatures below the world of formation; and it may also serve as the one who carries things upwards from below, from our world to the higher worlds' (Steinsaltz). You might call us the transpersonal postal service for prayers and so forth.

"Just to make it clear, it was not I who prompted Bob to steal the Las Vegas Holiday Inn flag back in 1980. For there are 'subversive angels' that are actually created by the thoughts and actions of men. I believe Bob calls them 'mind parasites.' They are contingent objectifications from various vital-emotional domains. Up here we sometimes call them the 'tempters.' Either that, or the 'mesmerers.' The Holiday Inn incident was a fine example of a tempter tantrum emboldened by what we call 'liquid courage,' and fueled by a desire to be seen by his friends as, I don't know, transgressive or something.

"It would be wrong to conclude on the basis of what I have just said that the difference between you and I is that you have a body and I don't. Rather, 'the soul of man is most complex and includes a whole world of different existential elements of all kinds, while the angel is a being of a single essence and therefore in a sense one-dimensional' (Steinsaltz).

"This is why you and I play such different roles in the cosmic economy. You actually have the tougher job, which is to say, because of your 'many-sidedness' and your 'capacity to to contain contradictions,' this makes it possible for you to 'rise to great heights,' but also to fuck up big time, neither of which is true for me. Rather, the angel is 'eternally the same; it is static, an unchanging existence,' 'fixed within rigid limits.' Every angel is his own species.

"You might say that I am already 'whole' in space, whereas it is your vocation to become whole in time. Not easy, I realize, but there you are."

Monday, April 29, 2013

Crazy Love & Calculating Death

The Deity is the truly active source from which something happens to man.... The price is surrender of his autonomy; he must throw himself open to the god, rather than lock the doors of his soul by choosing sensual pleasures alone....

[L]ove reaches its apogee and attains its own potentialities only... when it itself is recollection of something that exceeds any possibility of gratification in the finite realm.... In letting go of himself, man does not surrender to the purely "irrational." He surrenders to the healing darkness of his own divine origin. --Josef Pieper

The next thing I'd like to discuss about the Death card is Tomberg's account of what we symbolize (↑) and (↓). Both arrows are necessary for spiritual development, and various forms of heresy emphasize one to the exclusion of the other -- which is like emphasizing inspiration over expiration. It just won't work. In fact, it will eventually kill you.

Pieper: one would "be barring the healing of the soul from the fatalities which afflict it; for only those who can abandon rational self-control and autarchy, and who know how to 'lose their wits,' are able to experience such healing and purification."

Emphasis on (↑) alone leads to the construction of a "Tower of Babel," or purely manmode ladder to God. Emphasis on (↓) alone leads to the fatalism of, say, the Islamic world or of progressive historicism, or to any form of radical predestination that removes human will -- or freedom -- from the equation.

Not to resort immediately to Godwin's Law, but I'm reading this superb biography of Hitler, and it is all over the purely (↑) nature of his "project."

Indeed, Mein Kampf, of course, means My Struggle; it is the exertion of raw will because, in the end, will is all there is. Biological existence itself is a battle of wills, with only one winner. No compromise is possible. Either one is the hammer or one is the anvil:

"Politics are the conduct and course of historical struggle for the life of peoples.... It is an iron principle.... The aim of these struggles is the assertion of existence.... The weaker one falls so that the strong one gains life." This amounts to death -- or an infrahuman existence -- over real human life.

Tomberg makes the interesting point that the way of Christianity promises not just Life over Death, but Life over life -- a merely horizontal life. More generally, one might say that the point of Christianity is the victory of the vertical over the horizontal, not a temporary pseudo-victory of horizontal over horizontal. Rather, it is ultimately the victory "of radiation over crystallization."

Which reminds me of the narrator's last line of the film Sunset Boulevard: Life, which can be strangely merciful, had taken pity on Norma Desmond. The dream she had clung to so desperately had enfolded her... ["Enfoldment" here is synonymous with crystallization, because both exclude inspiration and involve states of spiritual asphyxiation.]

Now that I think about it, the film is all about crystallization, or about death in life. For that is what Norma is: a breathing corpse, a living death, a monster. She no longer radiates as a living star, but is a dying star from which no light escapes.

The film is even narrated by a dead man, who shares Death's sardonic insights with the audience:

"There's nothing tragic about being fifty. Not unless you're trying to be twenty-five." "You don't yell at a sleepwalker -- he may fall and break his neck... she was still sleepwalking along the giddy heights of a lost career." "How could she breathe in that house full of Norma Desmonds? Around every corner, Norma Desmonds... more Norma Desmonds... and still more Norma Desmonds."

Trying to stop the aging process doesn't really make one younger. Rather, it turns one into a slightly more flexible corpse:

The dead primate at the beginning of SB -- like the one depicted above -- is highly symbolic, for that is what a human being is in the absence of the Divine, just a fleabit peanut Monkey Man. Of the chimp's final rusting place, Norma says, "I'd like the coffin to be white, and I want it specially lined with satin. White... or pink. Maybe red! Bright flaming red! Let's make it gay!"

Even the name: Sunset Boulevard. Not only does it convey the dying of the light, but in case you don't live here, Sunset Boulevard starts in the filthy bowelries of downtown Los Angeles, makes its way through offaluent Beverly Hills, and then comes to a noxious end in the contaminated waters off Santa Monica beach.

So, let us follow Tomberg's advice, and "no longer seek amongst the dead for he who is living, and above all let us not seek for immortal Life in the domain of death."

The spiritual ascent is everywhere the same, and always consists of purification, illumination, and union; or rejection, aspiration, and surrender. "This is the eternal way, and no one can invent or find another."

Yes, as Tomberg says, one can divide & subdivide it "into thirty-three stages -- or even into ninety-nine," but it always comes back to that same dynamic and interlocking trinity that takes place on a moment-by-moment basis, for purification is both illumination -- or consciousness of a Divine reality -- and union with the Divine Will.

Likewise, illumination is purification of the intellect and union with the Divine Mind. And union is a purified heart, which is now the center of one's thought and being.

Or, to turn it around, "a non-illuminated gnostic would not be a gnostic, but rather an 'oddball'; a non-illuminated mage would be only a sorceror; and a non-illuminated philosopher would be either a complete skeptic or an amateur at 'intellectual play.'"

And a non-illuminated and impure gnostic-tyrant of the left brings the gifts of hell to earth.

Human nature is so placed within its plane of existence that it remains essentially open to the sphere of the divine. Man is so constituted that, on the one hand, he can be thrown out of the autonomous independence of his thinking by inspiration, which comes to him as a sudden, unpredictable force from from outside.

On the other hand, this very abandonment of critical sovereignty may bring him an abundance of insight, of light, of truth, of illumination as to the nature of reality which would otherwise remain completely out of his reach. For we are dealing not with self-governing human genius, but with something bestowed by another, a higher, a divine power. --Josef Pieper, Enthusiasm & Divine Madness

Theme Song

Theme Song