Thursday, July 06, 2017

A Preposterous Cosmos and How it Gets that Way

It seems to me that one cannot begin to understand the nature of reality without recourse to the principles of horizontality and verticality. These two are very much like the Yin and Yang of the Tao, and just as primordial. In truth, every phenomenon partakes of both.

Are they iterations of something else, or are they truly fundamental? Just off the top of my head I would say that verticality implies absoluteness, interiority, form, and essence; while horizontality goes to infinitude, exteriority, (prime) matter, and accident.

Other ways of expressing this complementarity are male/female, wave/particle, heaven/earth, purusha/prakriti, noumena/phenomena, brahman/maya, semantics/syntax, container/contained, etc. I'll bet you a dollar you can't even think without partaking of both.

And always, if we attempt to understand the world with only half the complementarity, its partner will inevitably slip in through the back door. It's like the old gag that you can throw nature out with a pitchfork, but she always returns, probably in a bad mood and looking for vengeance.

Speaking of which, what is the left but an organized movement with degrees instead of pitchforks, trying vainly to remake nature into what it isn't? Redefining marriage, for example, is throwing out nature with a blow torch.

As we've mentioned before, what we call "science" is the method par excellence for investigating the horizontal. But to imagine this can be accomplished in the absence of verticality is preposterous.

Which I mean literally, for pre-posterous means to reverse the order of pre and post -- in this case elevating the material world above the mind that comprehends it. Only a human being can engage in science, but a human being cannot be reduced to the horizontal categories of the scientific method.

Conversely, religion as such is all about verticality. But if it forgets horizontality, then it too becomes idiotic. You will notice that dopey religion is often a reaction to dopey science. For example, the fundamentalism of the early 20th century was a reaction to equally kooky scientific ideas, e.g., that Darwinism is adequate to explain man.

But this descent into metaphysical dopiness should not be unexpected, because man is man, irrespective of whether or not this man calls himself religious or irreligious. Indeed, if I were irreligious I would nevertheless call myself religious just to avoid grotesque metaphysical errors. I would search out my own covert religiosity, because I would know it's hiding in there somewhere.

Yesterday I was listening to Rush on the way to work, and he brought up the case of Stephen Hawking, who ought to get some kind of prize for simultaneously being the Smartest Man in the Universe and the Dumbest Ass in Creation. Here is what he was referring to:

On his 75th birthday, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking told the BBC that President Donald Trump’s climate policies could permanently destroy the Earth’s livable climate. “We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible,” explained the world’s most famous scientist. “Trump’s action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of 250º” C (482°F).

I can't even. Or won't, at any rate. I'm almost out of time. Only three years left to blog before Trump burns us all alive.

The other day I read something equally foolish from Einstein, who said a lot of foolish things. Outside physics -- and sometimes even inside -- Einstein was clearly no Einstein.

Anyway, all of the above was provoked by a brief passage by Schuon. I began discussing it a couple of posts back, but here it is in toto:

There is, in man, a subjectivity or a consciousness that is made for looking outwards and for perceiving the world, whether this world is earthly or heavenly; and there is also a consciousness that is made for looking inwards, in the direction of the Absolute or Self, whether this vision be relatively separative or unitive.

In other words, and more to our point about verticality and horizontality, "there is in man a consciousness that is descending and obeys the creative intention of God, and another that is ascending and obeys the divine intention that saves or liberates."

I don't know of a more concise way to symbolize these two directions than (↑) and (↓).

In short, if there is a vertical dimension in the cosmos, then there is an up and a down. Because of this, we can be closer or more distant from truth, from beauty, and from virtue. Furthermore, verticality is precisely what entails the category of obligation or duty or loyalty.

For if there is truth, then are we not obligated to know and conform ourselves to it? If there is beauty, oughtn't we do our best to create and celebrate it? And if we have the gift of distinguishing between good and evil, don't we owe our allegiance to the former?

Out of time. To be continued...


julie said...

what is the left but an organized movement with degrees instead of pitchforks

Don't forget the black masks and bike locks. The implements may have changed, but they are just as physically violent as ever.

julie said...

For example, the fundamentalism of the early 20th century was a reaction to equally kooky scientific ideas, e.g., that Darwinism is adequate to explain man.

Interesting; I had never picked up on that connection, but of course it was. Which begs the question, what will the reaction be to the increasingly preposterous claims of the lgbtqwerty crowd?

Peter said...

For if there is truth, then are we not obligated to know and conform ourselves to it? If there is beauty, oughtn't we do our best to create and celebrate it? And if we have the gift of distinguishing between good and evil, don't we owe our allegiance to the former?

“I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him."

robinstarfish said...

Water! Water!

Back to "Is Anyone Here"... just checking in... I feel like a camel that too infrequently wanders in from the desert to the OC oasis where I uptake vast quantities of living water for the next long trek. Anyway, hi GB! Hi everyone! Still here! Stay preposterous!

Petey said...

Postpreerous, you mean!

Rick said...

Robin! Well, well -- I'll be a monkey fish's uncle - must be Old Salt's day -- cheers!

"It seems to me that one cannot begin to understand the nature of reality without recourse to the principles of horizontality and verticality."

Since he's so weird, I wonder if there are any Twin Peaks fans in the Pack?
If you don't know, the series has restarted (25 years later) and the most recent episode is quite "other worldly". The whole "twin" thingy has always run just under the radar through the whole series but lately Lynch has been really Exploring the Vertical dimension, as we say.

Bob - was Twin Peaks a thing (or at least David Lynch's work) when you wuz a film student?

Gagdad Bob said...

It was after, but I watched every single episode when it first appeared, not to mention Blue Velvet, which is a kind of prequel, if not in content, at least in tone.

julie said...

Interesting. I never watched the original Twin Peaks; didn't realize it had much to do with Blue Velvet, though of course with Lynch that shouldn't be a surprise.

Had a leftist relative say something about hatewatching the new version of Twin Peaks, so maybe that's a good sign...

Rick said...

Hatewatching - that's a new one on me.
These kids today...

Incidentally, Lynch made a prequel (a movie) to the TV series called Fire Walk with Me. It's definitely darker and racier than the TV series. I'm not sure if it's really helpful to keeping up with the series.

robinstarfish said...

Oh boy. Someone stop me.

I'm afraid I'm a rabid TwinPeaks-o-phile. The new season (3) is off the chain, and episode 8 is the single most amazing hour of tv I've ever seen. I've been sorely tempted to check in here after every ep and say "did you see that??!!" but didn't want to start something off kilter. But since that egg has hatched, I think Lynch is tapping into the same waters that flow here, albeit further downstream where it's somewhat polluted. But wow, it makes all other tv look like test patterns.

To reveal how TP sick I am, we stopped in at North Bend WA last week on our way to Seattle to see the original film locations at Snoqualmie Falls. Totally worth it. I know, I need a doctor. Fortunately, TP has one that sells golden shit shovels!

FYI, in order to make sense of TP (and believe it or not, it does make sense, especially to a raccoon), here's all you need to do: Watch season 1, skip season 2 (which went off the rails after ABC freaked out and reeled Lynch way in). Watch Fire Walk With Me (critical to season 3), then dive into season 3 (Showtime). If you like vertical symbolism, TP is your cup of meat.

Season 3 is, according to Lynch, an 18 hour movie, so the pace is magically glacial, pulling in viewers with the capacity to slow themselves down and infuriating the impatient. It puts big demands on the viewer right from the opening scene (the glass box, a damning metaphor for what he's about to do to us) and the rewards are huge. It's got little to do with the original TP, frankly, and is far better for it. I think TP3 is Lynch's swan song and he's pulling out all the stops. It's not entertainment as much as it is a manifesto or a wake-up call, or God forbid, the start of another religion (I'm only slightly kidding).

Also recommended is Mulholland Drive, which inhabits a similar universe as TP and makes sense too. To a raccoon. The diner scene will freak the bejesus out of you, even when you're prepared for it.

OK, I've hijacked this thread long enough with my little obsession... I'll do 30 Hail Marys and a pushup.

Fun to be back... I'll try to stop in more often. And behave. Sorta.

Gagdad Bob said...

Dayum. Sold.

mushroom said...

OK, between the Raccoons and Lileks, I guess I will give Lynch a shot.

Rick said...

Robin -- that was awesome -- keep it up!

robinstarfish said...

Shroom - TP3 Ep 8 was made just for you. ;-)

And one more thing with the new season - the bigger the screen and the better the sound, the more you'll see and hear. The soundtrack (if one can call it that) is as important as the visual. Headphones recommended, actually.

Rick said...

Robin -- cooncur.
Especially about the swan song. And Lynch is my favorite character in TP. I think he was introduced in season 2. So, might not want to skip that season.

ted said...

Lynch is also a big TM guy (Transcendental Meditation). He actually proselytizes for meditation since it changed his life so much. But I am not sure where his metaphysics lie... or even if he is a believer.

Rick said...

Hi Ted - I was wondering if you might be a Twin Peaks fan.
I tried the TM thing for a year. I think I was already doing it in essence (the 3 types of prayer as Schuon describes it) so I didn't really see a difference and stopped.
Funny thing about TM Dot Org, they don't seem to be interested in why it works (or how) just in proving it does (lots of scientific studies and statistics). Also, they make it clear that you do not need to practice a religious component (though they have no hesitation to talk about TM's religious source).

RE Lynch, if I had to guess, I'd say he's a good student of the Bible (based on the latest episode 8) and if I get Robin's yoke about "a new religion" I'd say he might mean Lynch is de-saturating the mental imagery of how he sees THE WHOLE EXISTENTIALADA works from In The Beginning to the always working Now.

ted said...

Rick, I am a TP fan, and have seen everything except this third season (note: I don't have Showtime). But I plan to see it in due time (so no spoilers! :)).

ted said...

Also, I was glad to see Mulholland Drive make #1 in the BBC's top 100 films of this century so far.

Rick said...

Ted - you bet. If you have Amazon Prime and their Fire thing for your TV - Showtime (through their app) is free for a month. That offer is probably available for watching through a browser as well and maybe even through your cable package..

Not a spoiler: the 1st 4 episodes were broadcast the same day (one after another).

robinstarfish said...

There's a ton of rabbit hole analysis out there regarding Twin Peaks-The Return, but one guy gets it in a way most others don't. I admit to spending too much time there instead of doing needed chores like mowing the lawn and painting house trim.

The "Non-Exist-Ent" section is of particular interest. The May 27 entry, for instance. Or July 1. Or, well... throw a dart.

Gotta mow the lawn before it's over 100 degrees...

ted said...

Thanks for the tip Rick! Will look into it.

Van Harvey said...

Woot Robin!