Scraping the painting, we do not find the meaning of the picture, only a blank and mute canvas. Equally, it is not in scratching about in nature that we will find its sense. --Dávila
How does the sense -- the meaning -- find its way into the cosmos? Not to mention the truth, freedom, beauty, inwardness, and depth? For the Raccoon, this is a false problem that results from inverting the world (and/or ourselves) and viewing it from the wrong end -- both upside down and inside out.
For if there is an outside, then there must be an inside. But clearly the latter must be prior, because pure outsidedness could never redound to insidedness: as said in yesterday's post, you can't get here (inside) from there (outside). Rocks don't one day start thinking, although there are thinkers whose heads are full of rocks. Likewise, no amount of down will result in an upside. But in a hierarchy there is always a down because there is first an up.
This may sound like so much wordplay, but it's not. It is principial. It is the Way Things Are because the Way They Must Be. If they weren't this way, then there could be no way, period.
These principles are not falsifiable, only truth-ifyable, but it is nevertheless up to us -- for we are (in principle!) free -- to realize them; this realization is, as Schuon puts it, "a matter of intellectual capacity, good will, and grace." For the restavus faith fills in the inevitable gaps and vacates the false connections and just-so-stories of scientism.
Here, try this aphorism on for size:
The meanings are the reality; their material vehicles are the appearance.
Thus, it makes no sense to rummage around the basement searching for the meaning of the house. No matter how thorough the search, we will never find it there. It reminds me of a line by the cynical Capn. Renault in Casablanca, when he's trying to impress the Nazi dignitary: "Realizing the importance of the case, my men are rounding up twice the usual number of suspects." But no amount of quantity leads to quality. You can round up all the matter in the world without identifying the party responsible for its Life.
Truly, it all comes down to the complementarity of Form and Substance. Again, as in all primordial complementarities one must be prior, in this case substance: the purpose of the form is to manifest, symbolize, and transmit the substance; or, form is a local manifestation of the nonlocal substance.
I hope this is clear. As Schuon explains, "The fundamental nature of our intelligence, quite evidently, is discernment between what is substantial and what is accidental..." In the final analysis -- or synthesis, rather -- "The substance of knowledge is the knowledge of Substance," ultimately the Divine Substance, or substance of divinity.
Thus -- this time in the words of Dávila -- "The natural and the supernatural are not overlapping planes, but intertwined threads" -- threads of substance and form.
I can't help thinking this might all sound a bit woolly-headed. Let me track down an aphorism or three that bring it into focus. Indeed, note that the aphorism itself is a form of the substance, which is what makes it so powerful. It's what they po↑nt to that counts:
In order to speak of the eternal [the Substance], it is sufficient to speak with talent of the things [forms] of the day.
The transcendence [Substance] that permeates things is the salt that seasons their blandness.
We are saved from daily tedium only by the impalpable, the invisible, and the ineffable [Substance].
The meanings are the reality; their material vehicles [the forms] are the appearance.
This also helps to shed light on who, what, and where we are. We cannot answer these questions via mere introspection, and certainly not via any outward material analysis. Rather, it is more subtle and (ortho)paradoxical than that. The following aphorism captures it perfectly:
I am merely the place from which I perceive -- not the object of my interest but what it is that interests me.
Clearly, this means that the self (or better, person) is not somehow "inside" the brain, much less identical to it (as Neuromaniacs and Darwinitics would have us believe). In the past we have called this "the erotics of being," borrowing the term from Christopher Bollas.
As Prof. Wiki explains, each individual (for this is the substance of our individuality) has his "own idiom for life -- a blend between the psychic organisation which from birth forms the self's core, and the implied logic of the familial way of relating into which we are then raised" (to which I would add the cultural, social, educational, and historical contexts, each providing a range of forms through which to express our being-substance).
This is the irreducible space in which human persons live: clearly, we do not fully live in the "material world," for life itself transcends matter. But nor do we occupy a world of pure transcendence. Rather, we must deal with this potential space on its own terms.
Thus, we very much need the world in order to find out and become who we are. We could never exist as disembodied brains-in-a-vat, as in The Matrix. Rather, as explained by Bollas "we spend our time looking for objects of interest -- human or material -- which can serve to enhance our particular idioms or styles of life -- perpetually 'meeting idiom needs by securing evocatively nourishing objects.'" We must always stand prepared to "be metamorphosed by one's interaction with the object world."
Now, as far as I'm concerned, this all goes back to the metaphysical implications of a triune Godhead. The Father "finds himself" (so to speak) in the Son, as the Holy Spirit finds himself in their mutual knowledge-and-love.
The world speaks to us continuously. However, it says different things to you than it does to me -- or, to be precise, we "hear" and "see" different things, based upon our idiom needs, AKA who we are. In the case of my son, for example, he has discovered his idiom(s) in photography and parkour. No one forced these upon him. Rather, they are purely spontaneous attractions -- forms -- through which he discovers his own substance. For me, it is this blog: it is the form of my substance and substance of my form. Cut it and it bleeds his bObness.
So, the world can be an adventure in the crystallization of Substance. Or a kind of trap involving the psychic coagulation of nothingness. Your choice. For
At a given moment, the most important place on earth can be a palace, a pigsty, or a cell. --Dávila