Friday, August 09, 2019

We Don't Believe in Miracles, We Just Savor Them

Maybe you've noticed that our postmodern, post-literate, and post-rational world denies but doesn't actually eliminate the miraculous. Rather it just kicks the miracle down the road, or paves the road over it. And under it, come to think of it. Meaning that their desiccated cosmos just hangs suspended between its alpha and omega, with no ground, principle, or reason. You know, a miracle, only in the magico-superstitious instead of metaphysical sense.

Looked at another way, this form of thought conceals an unthinkable anti-thought at its foundation, one that restricts our view of reality -- like looking at the world from the bottom of a well and concluding it is a circular disc. Given the implicit assumptions, this view isn't wrong, just very limited.

As anyone who hasn't been to college knows, there are no less than four Big Miracles that can never be eliminated from our discourse. At the very least there is existence; there is life; there is a kind of infinite intelligibility; and there is the human person.

These fan out into love, truth, intelligence, beauty, science, music, painting, poetry, faith, virtue, nobility, selflessness, progress; miracles of sound, rhythm, and color; and the sheer miracle of the present, which is to say, conscious awareness, or being-for-itself, leading all the way back up and in to our ground, source, and destiny.

To be perfectly accurate being-for-itself does not and could not exist, for it is always being-in-relation, which might be the rock-bottom mirrorcle of them all, in that we and everything else are images of the Trinity. We couldn't know a single thing if being weren't constantly in relation to the knowing intellect.

Or, to quote W. Norris Clarke, to be is to be substance-in-relation. Behind or within the I AM is always the WE ARE. Being is always twogather in threeness, which is why you need to take existence personally.

In the previous post we spoke of scotomas and scotosis, i.e., scientistic holes in the whole of reality, which render it less than wholesome, which is to say, healthy. The failure to appreciate the irreducible WE of the subjective horizon would have to constitute the most conspicuous hole in the materialist metaphysic.

Indeed, even if you disagree with me, you need someone -- me -- with whom to disagree. I know. Ironic.

Clarke writes of "the experience, without which none of us could be truly human, of knowing other human beings as equally real with ourselves....

"This experience can be condensed as follows: I know that we are, that we are like each other, that we can engage in meaningful communication with each other." In short, subjectivity is always intersubjectivity, so that in a way, love is simply the radical ratification of being. Or in other words, it (being) is good!

And please note that the existence of this WE could never be known unless first lived. To live outside the WE is no more conceivable for us than trying to imagine the consciousness of a reptile, or the color of sound.

Not that it matters in terms of the truth which cannot not be, but it is interesting that science is catching up with the trinitarian nature of a cosmos that is substance-in-relation, or "self-communicating active presence."

This is laid out in a recent book called Mimesis and Science: Empirical Research on Imitation and the Mimetic Theory of Culture and Religion. I don't know that I can recommend it, since it doesn't affirm anything that isn't covered in our bʘʘk in a much more thoroughly frivolous manner.

The scientific upshot is that the primordial We of the mother-infant dyad is the portal to "more complex social, cultural, and representational abilities." Not I think, therefore I am, but we are, therefore I am, and the resultant We can lift us above the closed circle of neurology, such that we may think about thinking.

Speaking of miracles, of the self-expression of being, and of the cosmic journey, yesterday I read a fascinating article in the latest National Review (dead link) about a contemporary American composer and pianist named Michael Hersch. You'll want to read the whole thing, but here is a man who seems very much in awe of the miraculous gift he has been given:

He sits down to play his massive and monumental piano work The Vanishing Pavilions.... It is apocalyptic, visionary, and staggering. And it takes approximately two and a half hours to play. Hersch does not play it all, in this pre‑concert concert. He plays excerpts, a little suite. And he plays it with his prodigious technique, one that draws gasps. Apparently, his fingers can do whatever his brain commands.
He was not a child prodigy, and didn't discover his gift until the late age (for classical music) of 18, at which time it was somehow waiting there, not only fully formed but unspoiled by the kind of drudgery that might have been imposed by more agenda-driven, or less child-centered, parents:

I didn’t look at it as, ‘I have so much to catch up on.’ People sometimes say, ‘You started so late, it must have been daunting.’ But I wasn’t thinking in terms of chronology or lost years. I was just overjoyed at my luck. I had found this world, and I had it all to explore.

'His parents, he says, have "caught a lot of flak from people who think, ‘What if he had started at four or five?’ Well, maybe I would have burned out.”

Remarkably, he doesn't have to practice in order to play even the most difficult pieces, nor does he "struggle to compose, but he does need time. He cannot be rushed. He works on a piece in his head until it’s ready. Then he writes it down, with no revision. It took almost a year to write down The Vanishing Pavilions, which runs more than 300 pages."

Hersch speaks of how "the music is lying dormant, waiting for you. You can activate it anytime, simply by engaging with it”; and of how "it just anguishes me that there are so many people out there, possibly, who could have been like me, or are like me, who weren’t fortunate enough to have a brother who would say, ‘You need to sit down and listen to Beethoven.’ What about all the people who are just as talented as I am, or more talented, and didn’t have the opportunity?”

Now, there's a guy who doesn't waste his time wondering if miracles exist. Rather, he just enjoys them.

10 comments:

julie said...

Clarke writes of "the experience, without which none of us could be truly human, of knowing other human beings as equally real with ourselves....

One of the things I often told my kids when they were younger - and still, occasionally, remind them of - was that other people are not toys or robots you can order around and expect to do what you want; further, other people have their own ideas about things and don't all love the same things you love.

In kids, this is often frustrating, because everything is so exciting and they want other people to be exactly as excited as they are about the same things. As we get older, though, these same differences add depth and dimension to our lives; it is the very realness of others, particularly the others we love, that imbues our own lives - and the ordinary things we do - with meaning.

julie said...

Re. Hersch,
He was not a child prodigy, and didn't discover his gift until the late age (for classical music) of 18, at which time it was somehow waiting there, not only fully formed but unspoiled by the kind of drudgery that might have been imposed by more agenda-driven, or less child-centered, parents:

Interesting. As a parent, it can be challenging to find that balance between developing necessary skills and turning work into drudgery. With my two, they often have somewhat manic seeming (to an adult) bursts of immense creativity. Which in turn, sometimes leads me to think "we ought to Do Something with this." So far, I have successfully resisted the urge.

Gagdad Bob said...

We tried giving Tristan guitar lessons a couple of years ago, but he didn't have much interest, so we let it go. Then, a few months ago something clicked. He picked up the guitar and hasn't put it down since. He sometimes plays for like 12 hours, until 3:00 AM. He surpassed my meager skills in about a week, and hasn't looked back.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of savoring miracles, I knew dozens of American-born Hispanics in my previous work. Mostly Catholics, and never a problem. But in my new career I come into frequent contact with many Hispanic ‘immigrants’.

I quickly noticed that they only refer their own kind for work, that their businesses are rarely ever legit (my state makes it easy to check) and they don’t assimilate into Americana very well. They seem to know the going rate for everything and will bid at just under that knowing they can more than make it up for it by not paying taxes or insurance. They appear to work hard but are crafty-expert at cutting corners anywhere they think you won’t notice.

Because of their efficient single-gig-expert networking system, at least in the trades, their average ‘take home pay’ usually beats that of the natives, from businessman owner to grunt lackey. For example their drywall hangers only know drywall hanging, and nothing whatsoever about framing codes, best practices, OSHA, stud straightening, safety nailer plates, recessed lighting or even plumbing drain pipe locations. Moldy leaky times ahead! They let their competing honest native journeyman crews waste their precious time on such things.

Most Americans I know (even Trump conservatives) don’t care and hire them anyways just to save a few bucks. Seems economic patriotism is a dying art. Gee, I wonder what caused that?

Still, I’m always very friendly with illegals and pretty good at getting them to trust me. They tell me their stories. I learn their business models. AFAIK, they’re not just here to escape some criminal hometown vendetta or because they have nowhere else to go.

Many want payback. They tell me tales of how American policies screwed them over. NAFTA forced a lot of poor Mexican subsistence farmers off their land. The MS-13 epidemic in El Salvador was created by idiotic US policies. DC even once replaced a democratically elected government in Guatemala with a tinpot to preserve a fruit corporations profits. They see Americans as far too greedy, corrupt and stupid to care so they’re happy to take advantage and “do the jobs Americans don’t want to do” then send the money back home.

Trump still isn’t matching Obama’s deportation numbers. But maybe his highly publicized ruthless strategies will change this? We’ll see. Be nice if they’d actually penalize the owners hiring them, such as major meatpacking plants, not to mention the illegal taxfree businesses themselves.

Doug Saxum said...

It would be nice if some people would apply at the Rendering complex where I work.

Muslims wouldn't do the task because of the pork that comes through.

We have about a half dozen Mexican men that are legally here, I think.

Doug Saxum said...

We're all just playing the game.
Get that "green" and get out.

Anonymous said...

Hello All:

While national borders are currently maintained, these are slated for removal within the next 300 years. These will be replaced by regional administrative areas which will be much like postal zip codes.

In the meantime, restrictions on population migration will continue, as we want people to remain in place and work to improve the soil in which they were planted, so to speak.

POTUS Trump is on board, so rest assured effective migration controls will be in place, including tightening up restrictions regarding southward migrations as well. Standardization in global living conditions will result in persons having little to gain by migrating.

Recruitment for outward migration into the asteroid belt for mining operations will become a thing in the next 100 years, with some truly juicy incentive packages being considered at this time.

Yes, Virginia, there will be a basic minimum income given to all, and this will be shown to have no chilling effect on energy or innovation whatsoever, but will make everyone nicely relaxed, because the pursuit of the buck for mere survival purposes results in people doing bad karmayoga. After removing angst about survival people can take a big breath, roll up their sleeves, and work like its 2099.

Let the good times roll, we are debouching into glory as mastery of globe and nearby satellites heralds the coming of age of the bipedal Wunderkind of Earth, inventors of the ball point pen and Scotch whisky, already hot bootleg commodities in the spiral arm.

Yay for us.

And me? I'm the NWO. Did you need to ask?

Doug Saxum said...

Psa 111:10 - The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.

Lose yourself in man's wisdom, end up losing your life everlasting.

Anonymous said...

So anon @ 8/12/2019 03:02:00 PM,

I do think that on a personal level, theistic faith can be a good thing for many.

Of course there are all the personal psychological benefits. But the bad things seem to happen when fellows gather into groups, when fellowship goes bad, so to speak. You know, a quiet Martin Luther gets up from his meditations with Jesus to get out and hobnob a bit then has the sudden urge to kill Jews. I don’t think there’s anything in the Bible about praying making somebody want to torch a few shtreimels and sheitels. At least not worn by God’s own chosen people. It must be sin.

So my question is this. How do we know if sudden urges, like say, “Kill the libtards!” are just rooted in sin, or are instead, being divinely inspired? Of course when a quiet fellowship session turns into an angry mob that’s gotta be sin, doncha think? How do we know when God is involved, or it’s just another episode of sinning sinners and the sinners who sin them?

Sometimes it’s hard to divine the wheat of righteousness from the chaff of sin.

Take myself and our friend Darleen M. We grew up at about the same time. I considered my childhood to be pretty Brady Bunchian Wonder Yearish, with a little That 70’s Show mixed in. Yet she claims her childhood was a dystopian leftist hippy hellhole. Was she divinely inspired by that painful experience to change society? I’d like to think that I was being divinely inspired during my circle scenes from the 70’s show, but then here I am. Not very. What’s up with that?

Van Harvey said...

Gagdad said "... He surpassed my meager skills in about a week, and hasn't looked back..."

Same happened with our 2nd son, showed some interest, and intriguing talent, then no interest for several years, and then around thirteen Ding!!!, wouldn't put it down and skills and talent gushed out of him. One of the things I miss most now that he's moved out (and now married), besides him of course, is the music he was always filling the house with.