Thursday, June 08, 2017

Fantasies of Finitude & Dreams of Reality

Every morning, upon washing ashore on this side of consciousness, the first thing I do is review the dreams that occurred on the dark side of the cʘʘn. One thing I've noticed over the past decade or more is that my dreams have become increasingly... pleasant. Wondrous. Definitely surreal, but in an enchanting and not alienating way.

This is very much in contrast to before, when my dreams were generally more persecutory in nature. There was always a problem of some kind, with an undercurrent of tension, danger, and an irritating lack of resolution. I don't mean nightmares. Rather, just being hassled by something or someone. I still occasionally get one of those, but not often.

An idea popped into my head. A theory. To the extent that religion is "true," it is true in a way that is much deeper, wider, and more expansive than, say, scientific or mathematic truth. As we know, it speaks to a "deeper" and "higher" part of ourselves. In terms of attachment theory, science is the Wire Mother, while religion is the Cloth Mother, the latter providing another kind of nourishment that is just as vital to survival.

At the same time, dreams obviously speak from a deeper part of ourselves. I wonder if there is some relationship between the speaking-to of religion and the speaking-from of dreams?

Yesterday we spoke of hacking God; perhaps hacking the upper vertical would be a more felicitous way of expressing it. I wonder if religion hacks into the unconscious -- or better, the non-conscious, which extends vertically up and down -- in such a way that the unconscious then hacks into the upper vertical? If so, this would explain the transformation in my dream life.

We've all heard variations of the expression "feeding the soul." It refers to a common experience, and goes to the reality of both the food and the soul: if the soul didn't exist then we wouldn't hunger for (nor be nourished by) the food, and if the food didn't exist we wouldn't be aware of having a soul.

Put it this way. I think we've used this example in the past, but compare it to the sex drive. How do we know we have one? Because we are attracted to certain objects exterior to us. Likewise, how do we know we have a soul? Among other reasons, because of its spontaneous attractions: the attractor and attractee are mutually illuminating.

Yesterday we spoke of Dante's Divine Comedy. What is it but a kind of vivid waking dream of heaven, hell, and purgatory? Countless souls have been nourished by its imagery -- for example, Bob Dylan:

She lit a burner on the stove / And offered me a pipe

I thought you'd never say hello, she said / You look like the silent type

Then she opened up a book of poems / And handed it to me

Written by an Italian poet / From the thirteenth century

And every one of them words rang true / And glowed like burnin' coal

Pourin' off of every page / Like it was written in my soul

From me to you / Tangled up in blue

Then there is this: He [Jacob] lay down to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

Like me, Jacob wakes up, reviews his dream, and says, Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.

And How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!

Wait. What place are we talking about? Is it outside, in some object? Or inside, in the soul? Obviously it is both, the one illuminating the other. At once Jacob perceives God and is awakened to a deeper experience of selfhood.

In The Symmetry of God, Bomford suggests that "the mystics' God be called 'The Unconscious of God' and that any other aspect of God be attributed to 'The Consciousness of God.'" This is a helpful way of looking at it: dogma, for example, goes to the Consciousness of God. You could say that it is addressed to the left brain.

Even so, it inevitably spills over into the right, due to its archetypal symbolism. It has a more "mechanical" effect on the left, a more "organic" one on the right; in the latter it is as if seeds are planted, which grow in unexpected ways.

Bomford quotes the Jesuit William Johnston, who writes that "the consciousness gradually expands and integrates data from the so-called unconscious while the whole personality is absorbed into the great mystery of God."

That sounds about right: left and right spur a mutual growth in one another, which in turn spurs an expansive growth in God. Or you could leave God out of it and just say O: we metabolize O via a kind of psychic metabolism between the conscious and supraconscious realms of the soul.

Two Big Errors: "The first is to infinitize the finite, the second to finitize the infinite. In religious terms both are idolatrous" (ibid.).

With certain qualifications. I would say that it is always an Intrinsic Cosmic Heresy to infinitize the finite, which is Genesis 3 all over again. It is Marxism, materialism, relativism, deconstruction, and any number of other pneumopathologies. It is the Left.

However, we must in some sense finitize the infinite, or we can't think about it at all. It's just that it must not remain static but be deployed as... as what, exactly?

Somewhere Schuon expresses it perfectly. Let me see if I can find it...

"We are here at the limit of the expressible; it is the fault of no one if within every enunciation of this kind there remain unanswerable questions.... [I]t is all too evident that wisdom cannot start from the intention of expressing the ineffable; but it intends to furnish points of reference which permit us to open ourselves to the ineffable to the extent possible, and according to what is foreseen by the Will of God" (emphasis mine).

The Points of Reference represent conscious knowledge of God, but we don't leave it at that. Rather, they are God-given grist for metacosmic dreaming.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Hacking into God

Is that possible?

I don't know, the thought just popped into my head. I was over at Instapundit and noticed a link to a book called Language Hacking French: A Conversation Course for Beginners. Sure, I wish I knew French, but that's not my point. Besides, I still have so much English material to get to that hacking another language seems frivolous.

And in any event, what I really want to do is hack into God, and that can be done in any language. If it can be done at all.

Come to think of it, Pentecost Sunday was just a few days ago. What was that all about? I mean originally?

I'm no expert, but it seems the main point was the transmission of a preternatural ability to proclaim God in any and all languages. I suppose that's a case of God hacking the brain's language center so we can in turn hack God (and what is the Incarnation itself but God hacking mankind? "God hacks man so that man may hack God," you might say).

That's an intriguing point, because it is often said that it is impossible to translate the Koran. Rather, one must hear it in the original Arabic, such that any attempt at translation inevitably betrays it.

Not so with Christianity. No one believes you have to speak Aramaic or Greek or Hebrew to get the essential message. Pentecost announces this principle loud and clear, that language is no barrier. Any language can transmit the Word.

Back to the hackery. Note that many if not most philosophers don't even believe it is possible to hack into reality, let alone ultimate reality. Kant, for example, famously claimed that we can know only phenomena. But the noumenon -- whatever reality is behind the appearances -- is forever closed to us. It is the one completely unhackable system.

Lately we've been discussing Gödel's theorems, about which opinions vary. Some people think they mean we can only use logic to chase our own tails, i.e., that we can never escape our absurcular systems of thought. Others -- myself included -- think they mean we can indeed hack the wider reality beyond logic.

Remember the logical positivists? Even though this philosophy has been thoroughly debunked, there are still many implicit or unconscious positivists who maintain that only empirically verifiable statements are true. This despite the fact that the belief that only empirically verifiable statements are true cannot itself be empirically verified. So that's the end of that.

Postmodernists also insist that reality can't be hacked, even while presuming to have discovered the ultimate hack. It is another form of cheap omniscience attainable by anyone, hence its popularity among the tenured.

For example, instead of engaging in the hard work of ascending toward Shakespeare, one just dismisses him as an exemplar of white privilege. One can do the same thing with math, physics, history, any discipline: instant intellectual supremacy. (This guy has countless examples of such systematic idiocy masquerading as scholarship.)

Back to hacking God. I recently read Jennifer Upton's The Ordeal of Mercy: Dante’s Purgatorio in Light of the Spiritual Path. Recall that we spent a month or so blogging about the prequel, which covered Dante's Inferno. Ironically, I enjoyed Hell more than Purgatory.

Note that Dante was so bold as to attempt to not only hack heaven, but purgatory and hell to boot -- or in other words, to provide a comprehensive map of the vertical. All in Italian, of all languages!

That book must have popped into my head for a reason. Let's try to find out what it was.

Ah, here we go. Not only did Dante hack the above three nonlocal localities, but in so doing hacked death itself! For "he presents himself in the Purgatorio as a living man engaged in a pilgrimage through the postmortem states" (Upton).

In fact, these states aren't even that far away, rather, just a micron or quark to the north: "in reality these postmortem states are even closer to us than the impressions brought to us by our five senses."

Which is very close, even touching. Indeed, each of our five senses involves a form of touch, whether of solid matter, lightwaves, air vibrations, or air-/foodborne molecules. Evidently there is a vertical version of each of our senses. Or so we have heard from the wise.

For example, once Dante exits hell and stands on the shore of purgatory, he can see a lot more: "now, when he lifts his eyes, he sees not only Purgatory but the starry sky above. This is deeply renewing to him; through the physical forms perceived by his senses the celestial archetypes are beginning to shine."

But guess what? I think Dante is us and that Purgatory is here. Therefore, we can -- and must -- in this life raise our inner eye upward toward the spiritual horizon and thereby perceive how those celestial archetypes shine herebelow. You know -- metaphysical transparency, or celestial translucency. Subtle vibrations are everywhere.

Conversely, think of how the postmodernist fixes his gaze downward and creates his own hell -- a spiritually opaque world of raw absurdity and naked power.

To be continued...

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Inside the Mind of Godlessness

Even more than usual I have nothing to say but a compulsion to say it. Therefore, if the posts strike you as more elliptical and wandering, you're no doubt right. We're just casually wondering and blundering around O, taking in the fauna and looking under branches and rocks, with one eye on the subjective horizon. Like a river that can't find the Sea...

Must everything have a point?! No, of course not. Far from succumbing to nihilism, man is dying from the freaking Point of Everything. No longer does he do nothing for the sake of Nothing, which is the only sure way to God (or God's way to man: you have to give him a little space to operate).

For it is literally the case that the Highest Things have no point. What is the point of love? Reduced to some kind of utilitarian calculation it becomes perverse. Same with truth, beauty, and virtue... and this blog. Its point is always the higher pointlessness of being-with-God...

If we could attain complete comprehension of reality, we would have the mind of God; or in other words, only God -- irrespective of whether or not you are a believer -- can conceivably have such total understanding. God is, among other things, the One Who Gets It (and us).

Interesting that we can posit the idea of "total understanding," which makes me suspect someone has it. Just not us.

Hegel certainly thought he had it. Marx took from Hegel the parts he liked -- in particular, the cheap omniscience -- and here we are. But nowadays the omniscience of dialectical materialism has transformed into a kind of omniscient stupidity on the part of the left.

I say this literally because, to paraphrase Schuon, to claim that relativism is the case is to (omnisciently) assert that man's stupidity is total. Like anyone could know that!

Frankly, nothing is that stupid, let alone everything. Even rocks have intelligibility built into them.

"Hegel seriously believed he had reached ultimate truth," meaning that he had managed "to contain all of reality in the conceptual net of his system" (Watts). Nor was he the last. Freud comes to mind. He was especially clever about it, because any criticism of his theory served as proof of the theory -- for example, that you are just acting out a father complex toward the Master.

The left has its own diabolical version of this trick, such that criticism of it is evidence of White Privilege, or the patriarchy, or heteronormativity, or homophobia, whatever. Indeed, this is one of the appeals of the left: a few simple tricks allows one to feel superior -- morally and intellectually -- to one's betters. Any idiot from an elite university with an IQ of 85 can shut down Charles Murray by calling him a racist. QED.

There is no soul so cosmically great that a leftist can't take him down with a single blow. You know the drill: George Washington? Slaveowner. Churchill? Imperialist.

Now, as we know, what makes God omniscient is that in him existence and essence are one; or in other words, his essence is to exist: he alone is necessary being, while the restavus are contingent. Contingency cannot be necessity, but it can know of it (at least humans can). And thanks to revelation, we can know about it as well.

But again, Hegel imagined he knew both of and about the absolute, without any upside assistance, which is surely the last word in pseudo-omniscience. I take that back. One only wishes it were the last word. In a way, it is the first word -- those first human words in Genesis 3, where man presumes to become as God.

Interesting that the first things man says and does involve a rejection of transcendent truth. Which is close to the classic definition of fascism: the violent rejection of transcendence. I suppose we have to wait for Cain to achieve that in the second generation. He is our first homegrown terrorist.

"Hegel did not believe that self-realization and ultimate truth was dependent upon the 'outside assistance' of divine grace." As he put it, "God is only God in so far as he knows himself and he can only know himself through man."

Now, that's a bold statement. In reality it's the converse: Man is only Man in so far as he knows himself and he can only know himself through God. This is self-evident: man and God are complementary; to say one is to affirm the other, at least from our perspective. And when God says Christ, he is affirming his idea of Man, just as when we do, we are affirming our idea of God. Christ is God's icon of man and our icon of God.

It's not that God can only know himself through man, but that he can know himself through man. Not in Hegel's way, but Jesus's way. Or so we have heard from the wise.

Nevertheless, Hegel tries to think his way into God, positing him as pure being. In his personal myth of cosmogenesis, he imagines that God tried to think of himself but failed. Why? Because "it is impossible to think of pure Being." Therefore God "thought nothing, which is the opposite of Being." For Hegel, this goes to the symbolism of the fall.

Eh, I don't buy it. Here is my alternate cosmic fairy tale; naturally it is all "in a manner of speaking," just my own little dream of the Dreamer. But in my dream, the Father-beyond-being "tries" to think of himself and begets the Son, and they in turn beget the Spirit. Ironically, ultimate reality is a kind of eternal trialectic, just not Hegel's kind, whereby God "evolves" in time. For him, the above-noted dialectic between Being and Nothing engenders the Becoming of God-in-history.

You might say that the thesis of Father-Being marries the antithesis of Mother-Nothing, which gives birth to the synthetic Son of Historical Becoming. This latter would be the whole creation, including us. Reality is simply the repetition of this pattern of thesis-antithesis-synthesis.

The good news: eventually "society will reach its final, perfect stage of development, 'reflective unity.'"

The bad news: "For Hegel, this will be manifested by the State, in which individual human will coincides perfectly with the will of the Nation -- personal desires and feelings of personal significance and fulfillment will be rooted in, and perfectly compatible with, one's social existence and duty to the nation." Submission to the State "is to lose one's bourgeois freedom, but to gain a higher freedom."

America's founders, who had the misfortune of being born before Hegel, set in stone the bourgeois freedom guaranteed by the Constitution. But for the past hundred years or so, progressives have been trying to get around this and give us the Higher Freedom of Hegelian statism.

Woodrow Wilson, our first progressive leftist president, studied Hegelianism in Germany. Let's use the google machine to tie this all up into a neat synthesis. This ought to be just the ticket: a review of Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism by the PowerLine boys.

Question: "How did the metaphysical speculation of a 19th century German historicist, whose teachings were congenial to Marxists but are anathema to modern analytic and positivist philosophers -- as well as proponents of the Constitution as originally understood -- come to influence our constitutional law?"

"The answer lies in the concept of the 'living constitution' -- and in the influence of Woodrow Wilson." Ironic, isn't it, that the so-called "living constitution" was conceived in order to murder the real one.

It's very much as if left and right posit competing Absolutes: ether our inalienable rights or Hegel's Absolute Idea, and this cosmos isn't big enough for both:

Hegelians believe that, until we reach the end of History, "enduring" rights exist only to be negated by future generations. Thus, Wilson wrote, "Justly revered as our great constitution is, it could be stripped off and thrown aside like a garment, and the nation would still stand forth in the living vestment of flesh and sinew, warm with the heart-blood of one people, ready to recreate constitutions and laws."

The left has been throwing it aside ever since. Wilson "derided what he referred to as the 'Newtonian' underpinning of the Constitution.... Disputing the applicability of fixed laws (other than his own) to History, Wilson wound up opposing the concepts of limited government, separation of powers, and checks and balances."

Soon enough this leads to a government of, by, and for the Worstuvus. So it's a dialectal progression. Straight down.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Irrational Rationality & Insane Sanity

Just a few more points about Gödel before we let it go and move on.

It seems to me that there are two ways of looking at the theorems, my way and the wrong way. The wrong way claims that we are enclosed in the theorems, so to speak, such that we cannot know truth (or truth is essentially reduced to logical entailment, so becomes tautologous).

Conversely, my way claims that in understanding the theorems we transcend them in a way no machine could ever do. It is accurate to say that if the our minds were computers, we could never know it. Rather, we could only know what we are programmed to know, so we could never step outside the program and assess its truth.

As Goldstein explains,

No matter how complicated a "thinking" machine we engineer..., this machine will run according to hard-wired rules that can be stated in a formal system, and when we ask this machine to tell us what the true propositions are it will be able to do so only by seeing which propositions follow according to the rules of the system.

Therefore, there will always be "a proposition that eludes its grasp of truth," such that "No matter how we strengthen the machine, by adding in the previously elusive propositions as axioms, there will be yet another proposition that will elude it... but not [elude] us" (emphasis mine).

In short, we can deeply understand Gödel's theorems and thereby transcend them, whereas no machine can step outside its programing in this way. Rather, a computer is always in the loop.

In an important sense, transcendence goes to precisely what humanness is and does; it is not only what distinguishes us from the rest of creation, but Life Itself does the same thing on another level, except in a non-self-conscious way.

In other words, as Life transcends matter, the Intellect (or soul) transcends Life. This is what our pal Robert Rosen was all about.

Hmm. I wonder what he says about the theorems and how they relate to Life Itself?

Ah, here we go, from one of the amazon reviewers:

This book is a powerful critique of the reductionist and/or simulation (modeling) approach to the mind/body problem and the "what is life" question. Rosen [argues] that mathematical models -- and more generally, scientific rigor -- which ban impredicative loops from scientific discource, would not allow us to build what he calls a "new science," which is needed to account for life and consciousness.

Another reviewer claims Rosen's work "is unquestionably of the level of importance of Einstein's Special/General Theory of Relativity, or Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems. This is a grand claim to make, but once you read Rosen's work, you will see for yourself."

I can't say I understand everything Rosen says, but this much I do understand. But I understand it because he's simply articulating a Truth I -- and we -- all know in our bones. It is the Highest Common Nonsense.

Here we go. I love this: "The celebrated Incompleteness Theorem of Gödel effectively demolished the formalist program," for he "showed that, no matter how one tries to formalize a particular part of mathematics..., syntactic truth in the formalization does not coincide with (is narrower than) the set of truths about numbers" (Rosen).

Bottom line: qualitative is not just poor or fuzzy quantitative, and semantics -- meaning -- can never be reduced to syntax, or to explicit rules of order (as if, say, the meaning of Shakespeare could be reduced to grammar).

Rosen puts it as succinctly as possible, that One cannot forget that Number Theory is about numbers. There is no escape from numbers via numbers, but this hardly means there is no escape! For "There is always a purely semantic residue that cannot be accommodated by that syntactical scheme."

Little semantic residues like, oh, Life and Mind. Mathematical formalization is simply too impoverished a language to map the richness of reality. To paraphrase Rosen, biology only appears "soft" to a physicist because it reveals qualities that cannot be accommodated by its syntax. Life is not simpler than physics, but infinitely more complex. Physics deals with special cases, since the vast majority of systems in the cosmos -- including the Cosmos Itself -- are more complex than anything physics can cope with.

Reality comes first, the model second. Right? Unless you're a socialist or climate scientist. Rosen notes that "a constructive universe, finitely generated, consisting of pure syntax, is too poor to do mathematics in." (One more reason why God isn't a mathematician but meta-mathematician.) We know there will never be a scientific "theory of everything," because no matter how sophisticated, there will nevertheless be an infinite gulf between it and reality. No amount of fine-tuning will get one around Gödel.

So, "Thanks to Gödel's theorem, the mind always has the last word." The human mind "can alway go one better than any formal, ossified, dead system can" (John Lucas, in Goldstein).

Of note, the theorem "suggests that our minds transcend machines," while also making it "impossible to prove that our minds transcend machines."

This of course requires a different sort of proof, one adequate to the object (Subject) in question. Although mathematics surely "flows from God," it cannot lead all the way back up. Rather, there is always the leap of faith between math and reality, man and God.

Some people say you can't prove the existence of God. So what. Nor is there any formal proof of free will. Nevertheless, it not only exists, but is proof of God. Don't kid yoursoph: the only way out is via God, otherwise you are indeed just echoing around your own model. You might as well be insane.

"Just as no proof of the consistency of a formal system can be accomplished within the system itself... no validation of our rationality -- of our very sanity -- can be accomplished using our rationality itself.

"How can a person, operating within a system of beliefs, including beliefs about beliefs, get outside that system to determine whether it is rational? If your entire system becomes infected with madness, including the very rules by which you reason, then how can you ever reason your way out of madness?"

You can't. Thank God and thank Gödel.

A timely observation that describes the conspiratorial, Russians-under-every-bed left:

Paranoia isn't the abandonment of reality. Rather, it is rationality run amuck, the inventive search for explanations turned relentless.... 'A paranoid person is irrationally rational..., characterized not by illogic, but a misguided logic, by logic run wild' (Goldstein).

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