Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Cosmos: A Dream in the Space Between Prepositions

I have no idea where this post came from. Truly -- for good or ill -- I just started typing, and it wrote itself. It must have been triggered by those prepositions in the title of the previous post, In, Of, and Out.

How is it that prepositions even exist? There are said to be 80 to 100 of these mysterious little words in the English language, including from, to, in, out, under, behind, beneath, above, within, beside, between, etc. The way I learned it back in grade school, a preposition is anything we can say in relation to a house: you can be on it, in it, under it, etc.

You'd think that grammar doesn't reveal anything about the nature of reality, or that there's no particular relationship between it and metaphysics, but then, you'd be wrong, if only because we need language to embody and convey metaphysics. But according to primordial metaphysics, there is something magical per se about language itself, and there is no language without a grammar. Semantics may not be reducible to syntax, but we still need one to express onesoph, let alone three.

Here again, just the fact that revelation can be adequately expressed via language makes language a rather special activity. God can presumably express himself any way he likes -- and he does express himself in diverse modes -- and yet, we all understand that language is privileged, perhaps because it is at once so expansive, precise, and creative. It is infinite, and yet, bound. Or better, infinitude is somehow "in" it.

Note that a universe of prepositions presumes a universe of subjects. Put conversely, in a monadic universe -- whether scientistic or religious -- there can be no prepositions, because nothing can be in relation to anything else. This is the problem with determinism -- again, whether scientistic or religious -- because it eliminates all spatial and temporal relations: if determinism (or predeterminsim) is the case, then if "I" do something, it's really God (or material causes) doing it.

Not to belabor the point, but I find it interesting that prepositions can actually be traced all the way up and into the Godhead: to say that the latter is an irreducible relation of three is to say that God has prepositions.

Think, for example, of the prepositional words of Jesus: "I am in the Father and the Father is in Me," or "you are in Me, and I am in you." On the surface these appear paradoxical, because normally if you are in something, than that thing is outside you. For example, I am now in my coon den, and my coon den is around me. It can't be in me.

Having said that, the classical view holds that knowledge of any kind is only possible because of a kind of inside-to-inside transmission. In order to apprehend an object of any kind, one must first recognize it as an object, which involves an instantaneous recognition of its essence.

For example, when I look outside and see a tree, or bird, or rock, I have unproblematically categorized them by a transcendent essence. If we couldn't do this then we couldn't think, because everything would be a particular case or unique instance. There would be no generalizations.

Getting back to the primordial nature of prepositions, the prologue to John provides some clues: the Word was with God, and yet was God. Big time orthoparadox there: herebelow, where Aristotle rules the day, if A is with A, then A cannot be A. Not so with the nighttime logic that prevails in the Godhead.

Along these lines, I have long felt that the logic of the dream is not peripheral or irrelevant, but is here to tell us a thing or two about reality. For example: I am in my dreams. But wait -- aren't my dreams in me, i.e., in my head? Who's dreaming whom?

Not to go all woo woo on you, but this can lead to some fruitful cogitations. For a Sufi might tell you that "So-called 'reality,' the sensible world that surrounds us and which we are accustomed to regard as 'reality,'" is "but a dream." But a dream is not just anything! For example, only dream logic can explain how knowledge is possible: how it gets from "inside" the object to "inside" us. Are we in the object? Or is it in us? Again, both must be true in order for knowledge to be possible.

So when a Sufi says something like "the whole world of existence is imagination within imagination," that's not just nonsense, but perfect nonsense. For "imagination" doesn't imply "something valueless or false; it simply means 'being a symbolic reflection of something truly real.'"

Recall Dávila's gag that the universe is important or meaningful only if it is an appearance -- a dream, you might say. If it is the reality, then it is as insignificant as a swarm of insects.

Significance itself is a kind of dream, isn't it? But dreams need to be interpreted, and some interpretations are better than others. There are, as Izutsu puts it, "veridical dreams," for there are prophets and visionaries who see them: "Thus, a prophet who lives his life in such an unusual spiritual state may be said to be in a dream all through his life. 'The whole of his life is nothing but a dream within a dream'" (emphases mine, to highlight the prepositions).

Now, the question is, how does all of this get off the goround? In other words, how do humans get this way? How do we leave the mere (material) oneness below and enter the (human) world of threeness above?

People talk about "intelligence" as if it's just a matter of information going from here to there, but the whole process is predicated on a prepositional cosmos and prepositional humans, the latter impossible if the former isn't the case.

What do I mean? I'm not sure I have sufficient time to lay it all out, but it's something that dawned on me back in graduate school, in my study of what is called "object relations," or human development in the context of modern attachment theory.

Where to begin such a large subject? Really, it's laid out in Book Three of the Coonifesto, but that was before I tied it all together into the Trinity. Now I understand that infancy is the way it is because the Godhead is the way it is. You might say that to be human is for humanness to be in us, and that the link between these is love. I'll explain tomorrow... But note that Christ himself is impossible if the cosmos isn't structured in this way... Or, to put it conversely, it helps explain how God can be in human nature and vice versa....

4 comments:

julie said...

But note that Christ himself is impossible if the cosmos isn't structured in this way

Just so, as In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Daniel T said...



My introduction to attachment theory through the Coonifesto was immensely helpful in feeling out just how "pregnant with meaning" those early years might be. And what they, like the structure and acquisition of language, reveal about reality broadly speaking.

I was also instantly reminded of Chesterton's excellent passage in Heretics in which he makes intelligible the Christian restyling of Paganism.

He writes: Christianity, even enormous as was its revolution, did not alter this ancient and savage sanctity; it merely reversed it. This it called, not the family, but the Holy Family, for many things are made holy by being turned upside down.

Just how many layers of truth are there to God as a babe in a manger?

Daniel T said...

For some strange reason my comment neglected the most relevant part of the quote:

Christianity, even enormous as was its revolution, did not alter this ancient and savage sanctity; it merely reversed it. It did not deny the trinity of father, mother, and child. It merely read it backwards, making it run child, mother, father. This it called, not the family, but the Holy Family, for many things are made holy by being turned upside down.

julie said...

...many things are made holy by being turned upside down.

I love that. Studying Psalms of lament this morning, that would have been a perfect observation when discussing how God is with us even in the midst of great suffering. Would David have been a king of any note, if his reign had always been trouble-free? It also resonates with the passage from Paul last Sunday about how God shows his strength through our weakness. It's not exactly a comfort, in the midst of when things are being turned upside down or when we struggle with hardships in our lives, but occasionally in hindsight we catch a glimpse of the miracles he has worked through us and on our behalf.