Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Subjects in Mirror May be Larger than they Appear

The man who says "I" doesn't choose the mouth which says it. --Wittgenstein

Okay, what's that supposed to mean?

Well, first of all, it goes to the miracle of subjectivity, through which each of us can honestly say "I" without starting an argument over who patented the name.

Only a human being -- or person, rather -- can say I AM. (A human being is a type of person, whereas a person is not a type of human being, just as "life" is not restricted to biology, nor substance restricted to physical matter.)

Even leaving Jesus aside, it would appear that I AM represents a collision between the highest and the most inward, or the deepest and most expansive.

This is the essential experiential realization of the Upanishads, an "illumination accompanied by the profoundest penetrative insight, when the mind, at a flashpoint," Iquates "the identity of the absolute subjectivity behind the objective world" and "the inmost ground of that subjectivity which is its Effect..." (Davie).

Yes, our I is an effect; but it is not essentially an effect of matter, of culture, of history (although these things may of course affect it). Rather, in essence it can only be the effect of another I.

This firstandlast guffah-ha! experience represents not a union, but a realization, "of the ultimate with the most intimate," whereby we apprehend the vertical reality of a "single axis, running from microcosmos to macrocosmos, on which the whole creation turns" (ibid).

Thus we make the final deuscovery and solve the last equation -- that in the selfsame text "outside ourselves we decipher at astronomical distances" what is "written on a microscopic scale in the further depths of the heart" (Claudel, in Davie).

Outside in, brightside up, last one first, I-I, sir, this is THAT!, etc.

At this point the only thing left to say is: Can I buy some pot from you?

I've got something better: some unfiltered, high potency Eckhart. Because it's not just a Hindu thing.

The Meister speaks of placing a mirror before the sun: "The sun sends forth its rays both from the ground of the sun and from the [mirror], and thereby loses nothing." The sun's reflection in the mirror is the sun, and yet, "the mirror is what it is."

"Thus it is with God," who "is in the soul..., and yet he is not the soul." Just as the mirror is still the mirror, the soul is still the soul.

Yes, the light is the reflection and God the creature; but the reverse is not true: the reflection is not the sun and the creature is not God. It is the distinction between identity vs. inclusion, respectively.

You might say that God is at one with us, but that we are included in God. To the extent that we are at one with God, it can only be a posterior realization of his prior at-one-ment with us. Thus it is our task to at-one for God's at-onement.

Or is it God's task -- a task he has set before himsoph -- to at-one for our at-two-ment?

This would be the Christian premise, that God atones for humanity by at-one-ing with humanity on the most intimate terms imaginable -- by transitioning through our every evolutionary-developmental stage from blastocyst to embryo to fetus to infant to child to adolescent to adult, and every phase in between.

Recall the wise crack from a few days ago, that Eternity obtains in time reversed divinity. A mirror reflects the object, only in a reversed image.

Just so, time -- developmental time, specifically -- reflects the eternal subject, only in reverse, as exemplified in Jesus' temporal journey from cell to hell and back, or from womb to tomb and beyond.

So remember: subject in mirror may be larger than it appears.

The End. Or Beginning, rather.

My mind has often dwelt on the enigma of "I."
Why is it I who thinks himself "I,"
And not another? Why is the world
Divided into many thousand mirrors? --Frithjof Schuon, I-ness


We are Ones again back before the beginning,
Before old nobodaddy committed wholly materimany
And exwholed himsoph into a world of sorrow and ignorance.
Back upin a timeless
With the wonderfully weird Light with which everything was made,
A Light no longer dispersed and refracted
Through so many banged-up and thunder-sundered images of the One.
Back at the still point between the vertical and horizontal,
Where eternity pierces the present moment
And we are unborn
Again. --The book of I Still Can't Believe they Published It

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

I Am a Revelation. Up to a Point.

Time only for a short post. Got caught up watching the Zimmerman trial at the excellent legal insurrection.

The entire spectacle is an absolute horror -- a sort of concrete universal, or objective correlative, of the same retaliatory statism that drives the IRS. The final common pathway of endstage leftism is the institutionalization of persecution for thoughtcrime, or the criminalization of politics.

I often think about the problem of how, once contained by the mind, revelation loses its power to shock -- to creatively disassemble, rearrange, and reconstitute. Instead, it just becomes routine, part of the endless horizontal stream of information, when its whole purpose is to verticalize its recipient.

It is as if, although man is surely born with an implacable sense of wonder, he does everything within his power to nullify it and render himself just a blah-blah-blasé commonplace.

Oddly, humans also have a tendency to elevate the commonplace to the wonder-full, e.g., Obama. But this always ends in dis-enchantment. Hence Iowahawk's immortal tweet that The unicorn rots from the horn.

Along these lines, there must be a constant dialectic between fact and experience, and by extension, dogma and gnosis (i.e., between (k) and (n).

Voegelin is of the belief that this balance was upset by what we might call a new irruption of spirit -- of direct mystical experience -- in the 13th century.

Ultimately the Church was unable to contain this irruption, which led directly to the Protestant rebellion, and, by extension, the secular materialism that dominates the contemporary mentality. (We will return to this idea in a later post.)

It is cosmically ironic that the last word in both word and wordlessness appeared in the 13th century, in the form of Thomas and Eckhart, respectively. Thomas's rational-ization of revelation has never been surpassed, nor has Eckhart's revel-ization of the ratio.

If you don't grasp that last formulation, I mean by it an experiential plunge into the very nature of the human subject, which turns out to be a living revelation of God.

To back up a bit, there is more than one form of revelation. In its narrow sense it is scripture. However, in the Judeo-Christian view, history is a revelation, as is the cosmos itself.

But the subject to whom the revelation occurs is also a revelation, which both follows from and leads to the mirroraculous doctrine of man's deiformity. Yes, You -- or I, rather -- are a revelation.

Davie writes that "the eye through which we see is not part of the visual field, but a limit of it." Just so, the I "is not a part of the world, but a limit of it."

What would life be like without this limit? I don't really know, but it seems that LSD could occasionally obliterate all limits, leading to a state of blind terror. Then again, maybe it's like a panic attack, in which case I do know.

I'm sure Schuon never ingested LSD, but then, he didn't need to. In a memorable passage, he suggests that if we weren't contained and restricted by the body -- in particular, within the five senses -- "objective reality would tear through us like a hurricane." The world "would rip us into pieces and at the same time crush us."

Exactly. Like being swallowed by a hippo.

The absence of containment -- of a skin-boundary frontier -- would expose us to a God's-I view of the world, which would be approximately like a visit to the interior of the sun:

"we would become transparent; we would be as if suspended over an abyss or rushed through an incommensurable macrocosm, with its entrails exposed, so to speak, and filled with terror."

I know. I hate when that happens.

So, our embodiment is a mercy, compared to the alternatives. In its absence "we would find ourselves ceaselessly faced with a totality of spaces and abysses and a myriad of creatures and phenomena, such that no individual could endure the experience."

It would be nominalism on stilts: a trillion billion particulars, with no possibility or reduction by containment. A bewildering eternity of catastrophic novelty.

It seems to me that our sense of wonder is like the residue, or a vertical recollection, of this ontological situation. We have just enough wonder to destabilize any pat answer to life's enigmas, but not enough to obliterate our very selves.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Stupid Burns but Intelligence Incinerates

Just as "the existence of a visual field presupposes an eye," writes Davie, "the existence of a world presupposes an 'I,'" that is, a subject. Thus, to say "world" -- or, better, cosmos, order -- is to say I and all this implies.

And it implies a lot, not the least of which being a kind of irreducible bipolar field of order, one exterior and objective, the other interior and subjective. Very much like form and substance, you will never find one without the other, that is, a world without a subject or a subject without a world.

It also means that every person is a world, which should not be confused with relativism, since it is an objective statement about the truth of things. Just because in a roomful of people, each person will have a different view of the room, it doesn't mean that the room has no objective existence.

One could also say immanence and transcendence. God exists both within and beyond this polarity, whereas man always lives within it. Or perhaps we should say a normal man, for the essence of pneumopathology involves the collapse of this space.

I've been reading a lot of Voegelin lately, and he reminds us that virtually all political pathologies -- i.e., ideologies -- result from a de-differentiation of this space. It was a singular evolutionary achievement for man to differentiate the two spheres, so to re-collapse them is a definite step backward.

At the very least, it represents the move from a sophisticated theology to an unsophisticated one, e.g., the pure transcendence of Islam or the pure immanence of scientistic atheism.

Thus, progressives aren't only fellow traveling in reverse, but they "start" their retreat approximately three or four thousand years ago, certainly before the Hebrew discovery of the transcendent God. Prior to this, God is thoroughly con-fused with the world, hence the barbarism of pagan polytheism, which is just a fractured, personified, and immanentized projection of the psyche.

I might add that the same accomplishment occurs on an individual developmental basis. We all must proceed from a state of fragmentation to unity, and with each conquest of unity there is a deepening of our subjectivity. Human psychospiritual growth and the achievement of depth are covariant.

Bion called this the PS <--> D dialectic, and it is fair to say that this is a permanent feature of our existence, short of mystical union. You may think of PS <-->D as analogous to the breakdown and synthesis of catabolism and anabolism, respectively. Too much of either -- an unbalanced state -- is pathological. For example, if I don't inject insulin, I will enter a state of pathological catabolism, as my body starts to consume itself. And we all know about pathological anabolism, e.g., Barry Bonds, Ryan Braun, and Alex Rodriguez.

There is another complication for the immanentizing ideologues, at least in the Judeo-Christianized west. That is to say, once discovered, the eschaton cannot be undiscovered -- you can't put the truthpaste back into the rube -- hence the ubiquitous apocalypticism of their programs, pogroms, schemes, and scams.

As Voegelin puts it, "The apocalyptic movements have become socially dominant to such a degree that today we are living in an age of apocalyptic politics." Indeed, "We are submerged with apocalypses of all sorts in the newspapers, the college textbooks," and other media. The Obama cult of 2008 was a recent example. The irony is that these apocalyptarians always manage to bring about a real apocalypose - not the apocalypse of God, of course, but the apocalypse -- the unveiling -- of Man.

When fallen and unredeemed man is unveiled, we don't even see a trousered ape, again, because the man-ape lives in a pre-differentiated world, and is therefore not susceptible to immanentized myths of messianic salvation. An Obama is only possible in a Judeo-Christianized culture that has moved back to de-differentiated pseudo-messianism.

To put it another way, no one aware of an actual transtemporal savior could possibly confuse him with Obama -- or confuse salvation with politics more generally.

Davie makes the important point that the Immanence <---> Transcendence dialectic cannot be infinite in both directions. Rather, it is only infinite vis-a-vis the rightword term, which goes to the very nature of transcendence. In short, "there is a limit of contraction..., but no limit of expansion." That being the case, "there is a limit of opacity..., but no limit of translucence."

Which is why you could say that stupidity always has its limits, whereas intelligence has none. Whatever is knowable may be known by human intelligence, and the "adventure of intelligence" is never over -- unless we artificially and arbitrarily stop with some limiting ideology. But doing this renders intelligence stupid, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the current state of academia.

Having said all this, there is another twist, and it goes to the infinite difference between revelation and ideology. That is to say, an unlimited intelligence -- not limited by any boundary -- can easily become a kind of runaway catabolic process, with no end. Schuon speaks of this in terms of the qualities of fire and water, or of the "dry path" and "wet path."

Intelligence is related to both fire and light, but also "includes an aspect of agitation and destructiveness." And "Even the most penetrating intelligence, if it relies too much on its own strength, runs the risk of being forsaken by Heaven: forgetting that the knowing Subject is God, it closes itself to the divine influx," i.e., (↓). We must remember that "fire illuminates, but it also consumes and destroys" (emphasis mine).

I guess no one says it anymore, but the media-academic rabble used to insist that Obama was unusually intelligent. Even if true, it only makes matters worse in a man who recognizes no extrinsically transcendent limits to his ambition, his authority, and his self-regard -- or to his monomania, egomania, and pyromania.