Monday, July 18, 2016

Patterned Transrationality

We've been discussing how the one unrestricted power can be the single source of the three Persons. This is consistent with the very nature of consciousness, which routinely violates aristotelian logic by being in two "places" at once.

This is especially true vis-a-vis dream consciousness, in which we are the Subject who dreams and yet a subject in the dream we dream. In fact, we are all of the subjects in our dreams, which means that our own consciousness is appearing in the form of other persons. It's like quantum entanglement or something, a single field with multiple particles of subjectivity: the parts are a function of the whole.

Which we have discussed in the past in the context of a unique (as far as I know) and helpful book called The Symmetry of God. From the description on the amazon page: "Why does the age-long quest for the eternal express itself always in paradox? Eternity is both an attribute of God and a characteristic of the Freudian unconscious. Recent developments in psychoanalytic theory have discovered an irrational logic at work in the unconscious process.

"This symmetric logic (in the mathematical sense of symmetry) produces paradoxes incomprehensible to asymmetric classic logic. The path of the mystic is an approach to an aspect of God analogous to the human unconscious, and is expressed through paradoxes of symmetric logic; whereas the god who reveals himself in history is a god who, by the same analogy, also exercises consciousness and is, at least partially, subject to classical logic.

"Christian faith holds to both the concept of an eternal god beyond time and of a god who acts in time. This involves both logics, and explains the paradoxical, symbolic and mythical nature of theological propositions. It also throws light on the conflict between realist and non-realist views of God and allows an understanding of orthodox Christianity which transcends both."

The key here is the distinction between asymmetric logic, which is our normal, everyday, commonsense, wideawake, cutandry, linear and left-brain approach, and symmetric logic, which violates most of the things Aristotle says logic cannot do. Superficially, symmetric logic may be dismissed as "illogic," but it simply has a logic of its own. I don't agree with everything Bomford says about it -- he seems to be on the liberal side of the theological continuum -- but I give him credit for being the only person saying it.

I don't remember him discussing the Trinity in the book, but I'll bet you anything a bi-logical approach to it will be a verticalisthenic exercise worth engaging in. Because I'm pressed for time this morning, I will borrow from some past posts in order to avoid having to rethink everything from the ground up:

Bomford is an Anglican priest who is a student of the psychoanalyst Ignacio Matte Blanco, who himself is not well known but had some brilliant ideas about the logic of the unconscious mind. Bomford has applied Matte Blanco's ideas to the relationship between God and consciousness, and how we may meaningfully communicate about something that vastly exceeds the limits of language.

One of the purposes of the book is to navigate between the shoals of a softheaded fundamentalism and a hardhearted modernism. It is aimed at the reader who "neither clings rigidly to the literal truth of every word of the Bible, nor on the other hand reduces the faith by rejecting most of what the past has believed to be central."

With regard to the potential dangers of mixing psychoanalytic metapsychology and religion, Bomford makes the important point that "from the beginning the church has borrowed philosophies from the world as handmaids to faith, and has expressed its faith through them. This has not only been to communicate with those outside, but also so that faith may understand itself."

Bomford begins with what amounts to a truism, that our conscious self -- or ego -- is situated in a much larger area of consciousness as such, much of which goes by the name "unconscious." This is a misleading term, since the unconscious is not unconscious, just more or less unavailable to the conscious ego. The unconscious is obviously quite active and aware, only "below," "behind," or "above" the ego.

Traditionally, psychoanlaysts have imagined a sort of horizontal line, with the ego above and the unconscious below. But a more accurate mental image would be an island surrounded by water on all sides, like a point within a sphere [ʘ] (the sphere itself being hyperdimensional).

I would also argue that consciousness is not linear but holographically structured, so that the unconscious is not spatially above or below, but within consciousness (somewhat analogous to God, who is both immanent and transcendent, the deepest within and the furthest beyond of any "thing" that partakes of Being).

One of the most important points to bear in mind is that we might believe a person to be illogical, when they are in fact obeying a different form of logic: symmetrical logic. Indeed, this was one of Freud's central insights, that the sick person was actually logical in his own way. One of purposes of therapy is to expose the unconscious logic that is causing conscious pain or dysfunction.

But it is also important not to automatically "pathologize" all symmetrical logic, for without it we wouldn't be human. Rather, we would be hyper-rational Vulcans with no "emotional intelligence," no interior understanding of things, no ability to comprehend God, religion or art, and no ability to love or create.

With everyday aristotelian logic, if something is in it can't be out; or if it is up, it can't be down. Or in other words, things can't be in two places at once. But if God is up he is simultaneously down, and if he is out he is always in. And vice versa. For God, it is not a problem to be two "places" at once, since there are no places to begin with, only everyplace.

Is this way of talking merely nonsense? Undoubtedly. But it is perfect nonsense, or what I would call patterned transrationality. It describes something that is surely real, but not in the same limited sense as material reality and its interior cousin, the empirical ego.

The difficulty arises in attempting to express the infinite through the finite, or the transcendent through the immanent, which can only be accomplished with paradox, myth, symbolism, and a number of other literary deivoices we will discuss in more detail below. Religious language -- whatever else it is -- is without question a way to memorialize, instantiate, extend, deepen, and meditate upon that which transcends ordinary language.

... God has an outer aspect, which we call being, and an interior aspect that is beyond being. In Orthodox Christianity, the difference is conceptualized in terms of God's energies (which may be known by us) and his essence, which we can only unKnow. I suspect that the dialectic between them is the source of God's creativity, or his eternal surprise and delight at his endless productions.

Now, it is not actually possible for us to experience or know the eternal. Or, to be precise, we can only experience it if we no longer exist, because to identify with it would be to disappear from time, and thought and existence require time ("no one sees my face and lives"). As Boethius wrote, "An unchanging thing displays no before and after, nor does it begin or end." Rather, eternity is "the instantaneously whole and complete possession of endless life."

But there are a number of ways we can experience the eternal and think the otherwise unthinkable in the herebelow. As Bomford explains, "among temporal things, the everlasting most nearly expresses the eternal. It provides the closest image of the timeless within time." This is why our souls are stirred in the presence of the very old and ancient -- the Pyramids, Yosemite Valley, a European cathedral, Barbara Walters, etc.

But interestingly, another penultimate form of eternity -- the symmetrical opposite of the everlasting, so to speak -- is the momentary, for such a thing is also "instantaneously whole and unchanging -- it has no time in which to change. It is not there -- it is there in its fullness -- and it is gone again" -- like a shooting star, or giving your daughter's hand in marriage, or one of Obama's campaign promises.

I don't think we got very far this morning, and now I'm out of time. I'll do better tomorrow.


mushroom said...

In fact, we are all of the subjects in our dreams, which means that our own consciousness is appearing in the form of other persons. It's like quantum entanglement or something, a single field with multiple particles of subjectivity: the parts are a function of the whole.

I am overwhelmed, positively.

mushroom said...

Is this way of talking merely nonsense? Undoubtedly. But it is perfect nonsense ...

Chesterton would be proud.

Gagdad Bob said...

No post today. Or tomorrow. Too busy around here. Still doing all the running around, what with Mrs. G laid up.

julie said...

How is she doing so far?

Gagdad Bob said...

Lotta pain, but everything apparently proceeding as expected. Thankfully there is oxycodone.