Thursday, December 29, 2016

Hand, Teat, Womb, and Cosmic Center

It seems that Mary is at once a kind of end, center, and jumping off point. But as always, I try to look at these things from a more abstract perspective, asking mysoph: what is the principle that makes this possible (or even necessary)? Not necessarily to reduce it to myth, but rather, to elevate it to what Schuon calls the "principal" realm. Principles are precisely what shed light on appearances. And this is what Intelligence is for.

In other words, if something is possible, then it is possible in principle. So, what's the principle going on here? Or is it sui generis, meaning that it is simply an inexplicable one-off event, "a reality which cannot be reduced to a lower concept or included in a higher concept"? If so, then this renders it intellectually dissatisfying, a case of metaphysical special pleading. Eh, I don't think God would do that.

"In Mary," writes Balthasar, "Zion passes over into the Church; in her, the Word passes over into flesh; in her, the Head passes over into the body. She is near the place of super-abundant fruitfulness" (in Bailie).

That is a loaded statement! Loaded with principles, that is, from the more historo-horizontal to the ontological-vertical.

On the historical plane -- the plane of salvolution history -- Mary is like the membrane between a specific people selected for a divine mission, and the prolongation and diffusion of the message -- or Word -- vouchsafed them. Imagine a coherent beam refracted through her and radiating ovary whichaway.

But the heart of the cosmic mystery is Word passing over to flesh. Now, that this principle is true, there can be no doubt. In other words, man qua man has access to a transcendent world of truth, beauty, virtue, and unity. If truth is in our brains, then it is incarnated. Nor is it possible to disprove that truth incarnates, on pain of instantaneous intellectual beclownment.

Where this differs is that -- so to speak -- the Principle as such is incarnated. We all, by virtue of being human, can can know this or that truth. Therefore, truth again incarnates in us. But this purportedly represents the Truth incarnate. Now, that is a wild idea, but certainly not beyond imagining if we appreciate the fact that we incarnate (lower case t) truth all the time.

Now, if you believe in sanctity -- in sainthood and theosis -- then this Higher Enfleshment is pretty much the whole point: to gradually, via a nonlocal helping hand from grace, incarnate more of the truth, AKA the imitation of Christ. This is a subject to which we will return. Here I mainly want to highlight the principle.

If Mary is the "place" where this occurs, then she is quite literally the Matrix (Latin for womb) where it all goes down. This itself is dense with principles. She is, as it were, mamamatrix for paparinciple, such that baby makes Trinity. There is simply no other science, philosophy, or ideology that elevates this principle to its proper status as the hinge of salvolution (my annoying portmanteau for salvation + evolution).

I first stole this idea of mine from an unlikely source -- or at least this source helped me crystalize the notions that had been wondering around loose in my head. I say "unlikely" because the author of The Human Animal was an atheistic psychoanalytically inspired anthropologist. Even so, when I read his account of the Hominization Event, it gave me a major guffaw-HA! experience.

Indeed, look at the cover --> It has the natural trinity written all over it: That little trinity is the very basis and possibility of the unity of man -- both collectively and intrapsychically.

Let me see if I can find an illustrative passage. But before we get to that, here's a note to myself on the inside cover: "In the symbolic pyramid of culture, very few bricks touch the ground." The reason for this is that the principles don't go all the way down -- which is what we always try to do here at One Cosmos -- that is, build the cosmic pyramid on a foundation of solid principles that cannot not be true.

Another note: "perpetuating mistaken solutions to problems --> other animals do not do this, only humans."

This also involves the perpetuation of mistaken principles, which is in turn a kind of misincarnation, is it not? For what are mind parasites but fragments of the Lie incarnate? Indeed, a fragmented truth can also become a mind parasite -- for example, truths of science taken as self-sufficient explanations.

Hmm. A lot of other interesting notes here -- for example, "mammal's greatest invention: the teat --> basis for psychic connectedness and open system."

There are actually three great inventions that rendered humanness possible: womb, teat, and infantile helplessness. The teat is definitely a turning point, such that animals become dependent in a most intimate way.

And before teat -- or at least simultaneous with it -- is the womb through which one is literally inside another (unlike the reptilian egg, which is outside the body). And the His Majesty the Helpless Baby is the most fantastic of all. He simultaneously enables, and is enabled by, the primordial familial trinity of Mother-Father-Baby.

Another fabulous invention is the hand, specifically, the one with the opposable thumb. If we didn't have hands to grasp objects, nor could we have minds to grasp ideas and principles. Think of other "tools" evolution bequeaths to the animals: they generally do one or two specific things.

Wings, for example, help birds fly, and also keep them warm. But a hand can do countless things, from punching someone in the nose to writing sonnets (to making flying machines and coats for warmth). Truly, the hand is a kind of word made flesh that must be present before Word can be made flesh, for it is our first gateway to abstraction and generalization.

In a chapter entitled Man Hands Himself a New Kind of Evolution, LaBarre notes another important point, that bipedalism had to occur first in order to free the hands; in a coonworthy bon mot, he says that "man stands alone, because he alone stands."

As for the liberated upper extremities, "the human hand is the adaptation to end all adaptations." The emancipated hand emancipates us from... from everything, really, to whatever you consider to be the highest (or lowest) reaches of mankind. It allowed us to specialize in nothing and therefore everything.

But it all redounds to nothing if individual minds aren't linked together, which goes back to the invention of the helpless infant and the resultant intersubjectivity of mother and baby: "The real evolutionary unit now is not man's mere body; it is 'all-mankind's-brains-together-with-all-the-extrabodily-materials-that-come-under-the-manipulation-of-their-hands'" (ibid.). You could say this intersubjectivity ultimately renders possible the extrabodily body of Christ alluded to in paragraph three above.

We're getting rather far afield this morning, aren't we? Back to God's Gamble. "Mary's fiat" -- i.e., the Big Yes -- "inaugurates her pregnancy and brings that of her people to term." And "She brings the Yes of Abraham to its supreme expression." In her case, "She consents not to do, but to be, to be available as a vessel of divine will." She is the explicit link between doing and being, or between law and spirit, flesh and Word.

"For Jesus to have had a real human childhood, he would have had his primary, pre-synagogue formation at his mother's breast..." (Bailie).

There are a number of references to this in the Book that are pregnant with meaning, such as older than Abraham, young as a babe's I AM, and blissfully floating before the fleeting flickering universe, stork naked in brahma daynight, worshiping in oneder in a weecosmic womb with a pew...


julie said...

For what are mind parasites but fragments of the Lie incarnate? Indeed, a fragmented truth can also become a mind parasite -- for example, truths of science taken as self-sufficient explanations.

Yes, just think how frequently a partial understanding, taken as a whole, tends to lead to destruction - like trying to build an arch (or worse, a dome) with only one column. It doesn't matter how true a fragment of knowledge is, if the knower believes it to be complete when it is only a piece

Anonymous said...

I was taught history was the record of the struggle to control the means of production.

Religion, entertainment, and the arts were introduced as means to ensure the oppressed had some shred of hope and a few pleasures to cling to, so as not to revolt against kulaks, bandits, and profiteers who controlled the wealth.

However, your posts tend to paint a different picture in which religion is central to history, and the means of production secondary. This has created some stress for me as I think about it. Have I been deceived? I shall read more of these posts.

I own a car and have enough property so as to live in dread I will be denounced as reactionary and an enemy of the people.