Thursday, October 19, 2017

Thursday Morning Metaphysical Rant

Hello. This isn't part of the rant. Rather, the rant is now over, and I am now identifying it as one. A Get off my celestial lawn! moment, you might say. Getting stuff off my chest, AKA externalizing the fourth chakra. Venting the nonlocal spleen. Perhaps I should do it more often. After all, it's only how I really feel:

This should not be a controversial statement, but a first principle of any intelligent human being -- or a human being who endeavors to exercise his intelligence to the fullest: "Man by definition is a center, or 'the center' in a given universe" (Schuon).

Let's leave other hypothetical universes to the side, and restrict ourselves to this one. In this cosmos man is central, which is to say, Pontifex Maximus: not so much the Bridge Builder as the bridge itself.

Which we must simultaneously build. Irreducible orthoparadox, you see. How to put it... We are the bridge we construct in order to get from here to there. Not a horizontal there but a vertical one. In short, man is a vertical bridge, or a bridge of verticality to the father shore.

Better yet, just look at the caption of the icon in the sidebar: Your life is a path for the Spirit to pass from periphery to center. Thoughts and choices -- truth and virtue -- are the paving stones. To which I would add beauty, each integrated with and reflecting the others.

Anticipating objections, if man is not central, who or what is? Is there a greater being we might consult, one who "contains" us or puts us in context?

Well, yes and no. Of course there are men who are greater than we are, but they are men nevertheless. To the extent that they are greater, it is because they are more central, more integrated, more actualized. They do not belong to a different species, although it sometimes seems that way. They are like men, only better. Others are like men, only worse. There are always two possible perspectives on the worstovus: subhuman? Or all too human?

Which highlights the verticality of it all. In the absence of verticality there is no better or worse, just the multicultural relativistic mush of the left. I don't mind that they don't believe in superior people and civilizations, only that they want to outlaw them (even while privileging the worst).

We're getting a little far afield, but verticality and centrality are two sides of the same reality. In a purely horizontal universe, it would of course be absurd to suggest that man -- or anything else -- is central. Therefore, the materialist is correct that there is no center in the context of materialism. But once the materialist makes such a universal statement, he has actually left materialism behind and has placed himself at the center of creation in spite of himsoph (or sophistry, to be exact).

Now we see that verticality and centrality have something to do with universality. I'm just going to throw all my cards on the table and say that these three in turn relate to eternity, infinitude, personhood, and the Absolute Subject, AKA God. None of these categories can stand alone -- which is why it is strictly impossible to be a consistent atheist, but that is a slightly different argument. Let's stay focused on this scattershot rant.

The Absolute Subject is the only conceivable principle that ties the cosmos together. Put conversely, remove or deny the A.S. and everything falls apart: we are well and truly banished to the periphery. Not even the periphery, because that presumes a center. Unending alienation in an abyss of blind nothingness -- like being stuck in a liberal university forever, with no possibility of graduation. Or an eternal waiting room with CNN droning in the background. There are no words. Only a bone-rattling cry of existential pain from abdomen to larynx to void:

But there are words, and here again, words not only connect us to the center, but are its emanation. Not for nothing does man get to name the animals. Why? Well, for starters because they are relative to us, as periphery is to center. Note that (maybe) the most degrading effect of metaphysical Darwinism is to invert this reality, and to render man relative to the beasts! Which simply cannot be.

Think about it, genius: to even say the word "Darwinism" is to have transcended Darwinism. In so doing, you have placed yourself at the center of creation, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it, short of giving yourself a lobotomy and eating your neighbor. If you're an agglomeration of selfish genes, start acting like it, hypocrite! Don't partake of the detritus of Christian civilization while pretending your withered soul can subsist on the holy communion of sacred matter.

It's like the cult of Global Warming: I'll believe it when beachfront property is worth as much as a mobile home in Death Valley. Likewise, I'll believe in metaphysical Darwinism when liberals start behaving like uncivilized beasts.

Right. Let me put that in a different way.

Obviously the barbarians of the left place themselves at the center, but in the manner of the infant, who is also the center of the universe. Most of my readers probably have children, or at least were once children themselves. It is right and proper that we nourish the delusions of His Majesty the Baby, and treat him as the center of the world. We do this so he can eventually outgrow the delusion, and see that each person is a representative of the same center.

Two errors: deny him this delusion, or indulge it to excess, and the baby will spend the rest of his life in search of the Lost Entitlement. You will have created a monster. In other words, a liberal.

Bottom line for today:

"God became man that man might become God": the absolute Subject, perfect in Itself, descended into contingency so that contingency could be reintegrated into the perfection of the absolute Subject. "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life": Christ identifies himself with the divine Subjectivity, which "is incarnated" in the world of contingency, in conformity with the saving tendency of the Sovereign Good....

God is intrinsically "I"; He is "He" only extrinsically and from man's vantage point.... God is the only and perfect Subject and His intent is to reintegrate the multiple and imperfect subjects...

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Metaphysical Dunning-Kruger & the Elephant in the Cosmos

The other day I saw a headline on Drudge to the effect that American children are more anxious than ever. I have no idea if this is true, but I believe it. But first we have to define our terms.

Now, anxiety as such is prima facie evidence of an un- or even disintegrated mind. However, one must first determine whether the lack of integration is a cause or an effect.

For example, one may have a hormonal disturbance that causes a lack of psychic integration, which then causes anxiety. Or, think of someone with incipient Alzheimer's disease: as the mind begins to unravel, the person will start to experience anxiety, persecution, and even paranoia.

This is quite different from a primary diagnosis of anxiety. Which is also very different from normal and even necessary anxiety. Frankly, most people aren't nearly anxious enough. Or, they are anxious about the wrong things. Think of the anti-Trump hysterics. They are certainly anxious and definitely in need of treatment. But not for the Trump hysteria. Rather, they need to find out what the Trump hysteria is concealing.

We've all had that One Great Teacher, right? My own esteemed Professor Worthwhile once said... I actually have my old lecture notes hidden away somewhere, so I bet I could find the exact reference.

In any event, he said that with an anxious patient, always assume (once purely biochemical causes are ruled out) there is something in their life they're Not Paying Attention To. The anxiety is a consequence of the Elephant in the Room which they are ignoring, avoiding, repressing, or otherwise pretending doesn't exist. It is the Thing that isn't integrated but needs to be.

Some of the biggest things can't be integrated, so they require the most pretending. For example, Death. Wait. Is this true? That Death can't be integrated? Just this morning, while randomly bumping around the internet, I was reading of Lou Reed's death:

I have never seen an expression as full of wonder as Lou's as he died. His hands were doing the water-flowing 21-form of tai chi. His eyes were wide open. I was holding in my arms the person I loved the most in the world, and talking to him as he died. His heart stopped. He wasn't afraid. I had gotten to walk with him to the end of the world. Life -- so beautiful, painful and dazzling -- does not get better than that. And death? I believe that the purpose of death is the release of love.

For Christians, Jesus is meant to be the final cure for death anxiety, such that death is swallowed by life instead of vice versa. We'll return to this idea -- or real-idea -- later.

For the moment, let's play with this notion that anxiety and integration are inversely related. A rock, for example, is completely integrated and therefore has no anxiety. But it's easy to be integrated if you're a rock, for what is there to integrate? The reason why man is the most anxious critter in all of creation is that he has the most to integrate. Loose ends everywhere!

Indeed, man's very reason for being is the integration of everything. It's our privilege and our burden. That's what you call a Tall Order, but it is nevertheless the case, and everyone knows it, even if most pretend otherwise. Despite the pretense, it is the Prime Directive (or at least one dimension of it).

Alert readers will have noticed a zinger by Thomas Aquinas at the top of the comment box: Since a soul can know all things, in a way it is all things, and thus it is possible for the completeness of the universe to exist in one thing.

This is just another way of saying that man is in the image of the Creator, who is the Complete Person. Absent the Complete Person, no completeness of any kind would be conceivable, much less attainable, on our end. The very idea of the cosmic area rug would be a childish dream.

That's the good news. The bad news is that we are driven by a kind of anxiety until we fulfill our reason for being. Which can be accomplished in various ways, but not without God's help. For one thing, just imagine the futility of pretending a perfect integration that excludes God. Talk about ignoring the elephant in the cosmos!

Revelation is here to assure that every soul can attain this integration, regardless of various terrestrial contingencies -- existential, cultural, historical, etc. Nevertheless, unlike God, we are always trailed by shadows of the nothingness from which we were gratuitously plucked. That would be the ultimate source of our anxiety. IMO.

White makes this very point in The Light of Christ:

[T]he human being is created toward or unto the image of God because this image is not only static but ultimately dynamic.... [T]he human being remains the summit of the visible creation and can become more profoundly so only if he develops a more dynamic, perfect relationship toward God.

However. I want to say: insert Fall here. In other words, all the Trouble is located right here, in the literally infinite space between man and God. Call it what you will, but there is room here aplenty for every kind of mischief. Or just say History.

Gosh. It's one of those mornings that I have much more to say than the ability to say it. I'm trying to wrap my mind around something that is quite obviously larger than myself, but you can't swallow an elephant in one bite. Perhaps if I had all day. In this circumstance I have but one option.

Help, Mr. Schuon, help!

"Knowledge is total or integral to the extent that its object is the most essential and thus the most real" (emphasis mine).

This most essential and real object is none other than the Elephant in -- and beyond -- the Cosmos. When we say "everything is relative," what we mean is that everything is relative to this Elephant, without which there would be no relativity at all, just a kind of absolute mush. A left with no right.

Intelligence gives rise to "the awareness of our superiority in relation to those who do not know how to discern" (discernment between the real and unreal being the function of intelligence).

However, one of the first fruits of this intelligence is awareness of the relativity of our superiority, in that it is either relative to the Elephant, or it is Nothing at All (except for maybe the anxiety of being permanently sealed in total ignorance and futility).

And of course, many people are far too stupid or ignorant to understand how stupid or ignorant they are. Metaphysical Dunning Kruger is a real thing.

Here is our omega for today, which will be tomorrow's alpha: "The human vocation is to realize that which is man's reason for being: a projection of God, and therefore a bridge between earth and Heaven."

There is degree of anxiety so long as we are suspended on this rickety bridge called life.

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