Saturday, December 07, 2019

Something's Happening: Creation, Ensoulment, and Transphysical Perception

Picking up where we left off, we suggested that creation must be the Mother of All Principles. We won't say God, because God is a person -- or so he says -- and not a principle. The principles are rooted in the nature of the Divine Person, and I always go back to the first three words of the Bible: Bereshit. Elohim. Bara.

Speaking of translation and interpretation, there is a multitude of ways to render that in English, but what's really going on down deep (or up high)? We have a person (Elohim) and an activity (creation). The latter occurs "in the beginning," but the beginning is always now. Indeed, not only can creativity only occur in the now, if you think about it, it is just about the most nowish activity we can engage in. It simultaneously -- and paradoxically -- makes us disappear while requiring all that we are. Neat trick. No wonder it's so addictive.

It reminds me of something the prophet Leonoard said about poetry: Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash. And while looking up that one, I found this: How can I begin anything new with all of yesterday in me?

You can't. Unless there is a vertical ingression from outside time. Animals can create nothing new because they are literally bound by their genetic yesterdays. Let me know if you ever see a bird's nest with a statue out front or a painting on the wall.

But as the Aphorist says, Aesthetics is the sensible and secular manifestation of grace. Do I believe this? Yes, but only absolutely. It is not only one of our non-negotiable principles, but one of the ways we may "participate in God," i.e., in his unending bara. There is no need to believe in miracles so long as you never stop relying on them.

A couple more aphorisms just to hammer the point home: The work of art is a covenant with God. And because this represents a divine-human partnership, Aesthetics cannot give recipes, because there are no methods for making miracles.

What? You're not creative? Neither am I, really. I'm not a writer. I just see things and write about them. Fortunately, I don't have to be creative, because I have other people doing it for me -- musicians, artists, film makers, etc. You needn't be a creator per se if it isn't your gift and your calling. In fact, if it isn't your gift, you'll just end up being annoying. Madonna and Miley Cyrus call themselves artists. 'Nuff said.

Nevertheless, you must be capable of perceiving and loving beauty. Again, that's non-negotiable, for it is one of the primordial emanations of God. Thus:

Without aesthetic transfiguration all of reality is pedestrian. And From an aesthetic experience one returns as from a sighting of numinous footprints.

Conversely -- and lucky for us -- we can say that, thanks to the grace of aesthetic transfiguration, the world never gets old. Rather, it's always new, so long as we see things in their metaphysical transparency and follow them up to their source. Numinous footprints and fingerprints are everywhere!

Speaking of endless creativity, I'm thinking of the film (but not only film) composer Ennio Morricone. No one knows how many films he has scored, but the number apparently approaches 500. Consider just 1968: I count 26 films, or one every two weeks, but it looks like he's even more prolific in the 1970s. How is this even possible? He slows down a bit in the '80s and '90s, but in the 2000s he's still doing up to six a year. He's now 91, but imagine if he could live to 1,000.

My point is that man's creativity might as well be boundless, and it requires an explanation. If you are intellectually satisfied by natural selection, then your absence of curiosity is spiritually fatal.

Is there a more intellectually satisfying explanation? Yes. Yesterday I was watching Father Spitzer's Universe, and was surpleased to see that he puts forth the identical argument I do in Book Three of One Cosmos. He even drops the G bomb all over the primitive superstition of materialism: Gödel. For some reason, people just don't appreciate the explosive (and liberating) power of his theorems.

Click on the latest episode from 11-27-19, and start at about 30:30. He points out that although genetic human beings appear as early as 200,000 years ago, there is no evidence of interior humanness until about 70,000 years ago, when there is a veritable Big Bang of consciousness, or what we call psychogenesis. This is when ensoulment occurs, and with it, self-reflection, conceptual ideation, abstract math and logic, moral reasoning, a sense of religious transcendence, symbolic art, etc. It is also when and how the endless creativity gets underway. It hasn't stopped since.

So, natural selection is sufficient to account for the uncreative hominids who sit around eating bananas, smashing coconuts, and watching MSNBC. But it doesn't explain you, let alone one of those endless founts of creativity that pour down into this world.

28 comments:

ted said...

Sadly, we get exposed to more "uncreative hominids" with the democratization of technology and access. Just look at all the crap on youtube, etc. I do miss elitism. While the barrier to entry was higher, it did allow for some high culture to preside. Now, it's all been leveled.

Anonymous said...

Hello Dr. Godwin;

You say you are not creative, however I am asking you to craft a short story 1500-3000 words or so about a young boy in conflict with his domineering step-father. The father wants the boy to be a musician like himself, however the child wants to excel in sports. Mother is caught in the cross-fire. Police may or may not become involved.

Thank You Sir, please submit your story in the form of a blog to this post within 30 days and I will perform a respectful review.

-Cordially, Dr. Foxworth Pibb, EsQ, FACS, PhD.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather read about the grumpy party pooper who learns whimsical little lessons about life from his cats and his ants.

julie said...

Ted, if memory serves similar arguments were put forth in the 1800s re. universal literacy. And it's true, there is a lot of crap that gets promoted - just think of Twilight and its bastard offspring, 50 Shades. But there is also a tremendous amount of good that otherwise might not have been given life, if it were only the elites (ha!) who had access to education and the means of creative distribution.

As to the leveling, who do you think is responsible for the dumbing down, ugliness, and general mediocritization of the culture? Normal, salt of the earth people don't fork over tens of thousands of dollars for a banana duct-taped to a wall.

ted said...

Good points Julie. By elitism, I don't necessary mean the elites. Elitism as I understand it is formal standards over collective polls (professional critics verses Rotten Tomatoes). It's harder to discern what makes good art these days because we've lowered all bars (or readjusted them to so-called woke standards).

Anonymous said...

Good morning all. Arise and seize the day.

Anonymous 7:15 PM, yesterday you wrote, somewhat cryptically: "We have to do this for the children."

At issue was the need to succeed in business amidst cutthroat competition. I get it. You have minors to support. That snaps things into focus.

Your affinity for ants and cats suggests your struggle to make money is at odds with your fundamentally contemplative and peaceful nature.

Some people find a way to ensure material support for their families and do so with ease while having a great time and harming no one. Artists and craftsmen are prominent in this group.

You could be one of those people but you need a small miracle. You need an opening. You need a sea change. You could start by ceasing to complain about the past and focusing on what can be done today to help your dependents.

As for myself I deal with the same and I must disclose I have not solved it either so I am hardly qualified to dispense advice.

Julie commented: "As to the leveling, who do you think is responsible for the dumbing down, ugliness, and general mediocritization of the culture?"

Julie, I would ask, is anyone responsible and accountable for this? Wouldn't it be classified as happenstance or sequelae to a complex web of factors?

And arguably, our culture is by no means mediocre. We are world-beaters, we are revered in future history records as the intrepid pioneers of the early Information Age and the best art of this period holds its own with that of any period.

It is my hope the blog author's work is preserved for posterity and marveled at as it rightly should be.

-Cold Comfort

Anonymous said...

What you are describing is known as “personal responsibility”. Lifelong, I’d like to think that I’ve been quite good at personal responsibility. I made good decisions. I made sure that I was born with the right intelligence, that I went to all the right schools, and all the right churches, and worked in all the right jobs in all the right cities.

But quite sadly, my personal responsibility was infected with ethicality. In our current culture, ethical personal responsibility is a losers game. Sooner or later forces beyond your abilities or control will target you as a non-combatant and ruin you with their superior power and control weaponry, usually for greed, but sometimes for sport. And too many observing Christians will throw up their hands and say: “Wulp, everybody sins!” Or “You were just praying wrong, fool!” And then they turn their backs on you because Jesus only materially rewards his best. You must be in league with Satan somehow.

So I did indeed turn “craftsman”.

As a craftsman I fix my own vehicles, instead of relying on “professionals” (Example: well paid “professional mechanics” failed on my truck clutch hydraulics 7 times)

As a craftsman I fix my own body, instead of relying on “professionals” (Example: well paid “professional doctors” failed on various issues 5 times).

I have many more examples from roofers, plumbers, therapists, techies, family members, etc., in great detail if you like. But I’ve certainly bored you enough. What I’ve learned is that if I want anything done right and for “reasonable”, I have to do it myself. So I could be being too persnickety you might suggest? I should just go out and buy a new truck and pay the incompetent price gougy medical specialists. I should return to church and cherrypick Bible quotes that make sense for my newly unethical self, and then prey on the meek with my newly acquired Benny Hinn con-artist powers. I could start a Youtube channel called “The Corrupt Craftsman”, where I teach young new contractors how to cheat their customers.

Something bad is happening to America. Really bad. For a while I though I was living in one of those unfortunate “bad luck bubbles”. But having to get out and about to meet and greet lots of diverse people in my craftsman job, I’m having it increasingly confirmed that something really bad really is happening out there. Cognitive bias? Dunning Kruger? I scored in the top 1% in “abstract reasoning” in my 600 student high school class. I could just DK-it by falling back on those aptitude tests as a rationalistic excuse for insight that just isn’t there due to a lack of effort, but my very painful “hard knocks” experiences keep forcing me to stay honest and focused.

I might be so bold as to imply that our constant conditioning to be ‘consumerist livestock’ by pathologically greedy secular powers is ruining our collective ability to balance personal and social responsibility in truly Christian ways, but that would sound far too communist. And then I’d get yet another lecture about how socialism leads to black Muslim presidents. Yet our youth continue to turn authoritarian, a proven cultural, economic and spiritual dead end, when living as consumerist livestock doesn't work out.

J. Lebowski said...

Every bum's lot in life is his own responsibility regardless of whom he chooses to blame. I didn't blame anyone for the loss of my legs, some chinaman in Korea took them from me but I went out and achieved anyway.

I can't solve your problems, sir, only you can.

Anonymous said...

And so I do, fool. I'm talking about social collapse.

El Dudernino said...

This aggression will not stand.

Anonymous said...

In far more important news, the voice of Oscar the Grouch, Caroll Spinney, had died. Sadly, his many years spent hiding in a garbage can turned him into a registered Democrat. Many children’s minds were poisoned. No wonder so many teachers in Oregon are complaining of aggressive outbursts.

Howard Beale said...

I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is: ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my internet and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’

Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get MAD! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot – I don’t want you to write to your congressman, because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad. (shouting) You’ve got to say: ‘I’m a human being, god-dammit! My life has value!’

So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell: ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore!’

Dr. Chumley said...

There's a cottage camp just outside Akron... in a grove of maple trees. Green, cool, beautiful.

That's my favorite tree.

And I'd go there with a pretty woman. Oh. A strange woman, a quiet woman. Oh, under a tree. I wouldn't even want to know her name, while I would be just... Mr. Smith. Then I would send out for cold beer.

Then I would tell her things. Things that I've never told to anyone. Things that are locked deep... in here. And as I talked to her, I would want her to hold out her soft white hand and say, "Poor thing. You poor, poor thing."

It would be wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Hello various commentors:

This is a spectacle of negativity we have here. Actually, things are pretty good and there is no collapse going on. All is in order.

That's the outside world. What's going on inside you, now that is a different story.

That's the way it is for lots of us. Notably written by Thoreau "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation" and that goes for the ladies too.

-Harambe Silverback

Anonymous said...

I lead a life of quiet ethicality. The desperation comes later.

I'm curious. Is there a way, through quiet meditation, that one may turn themselves into a sociopath? Permanently. You'd be sorta like a honey badger. Honey badgers are sociopaths. Honey badgers don't give a shit.

I just learned about the Oregon teachers yesterday. Apparently it's real. The kids are going mad. There are so many ideas about why, ranging from "it's the water" to "because we had a black president". I think it's because these teachers cannot legally touch a child anymore. Didn't back in olden times, when a kid was stabbing a teacher with scissors, that the principle would come in with Mr. Gumley the custodian, and physically restrain and then take the crazy child away, never to be seen again? What I'm hearing about is psych ward stuff, on a kid level of course. I'm at a loss for an aphorism about that one. Wait a sec...

I close now with an aphorism from our friend Ozzie:

Satan laughing, spreads his wings.

julie said...

Tangential, but interesting in light of the state of the world today: The cultural significance of sexual morality

In short, there's not much an individual can do to rescue the culture at large; rather, all we can do is all anyone ever can do: Trust in God, and live according to His commandments. Marry, have kids, and expect them to be chaste until marriage and within marriage.

That's not a guarantee of personal happiness, by the way - far from it, and in some ways it just guarantees difficulty. Jesus never promised happiness on this side of the veil; in fact, He was pretty explicit that His kingdom is not of this world, and that it was quite likely His followers would suffer here because of that. Should we be surprised, then, when so many people follow the way of the prince of this world, which offers temporal pleasure while guaranteeing long-term suffering? As at least one saint noted, "If this is how you treat your friends, Lord, it's no wonder there are so few of them!"

Social collapse is a distinct possibility. Does that somehow change what God expects of you personally? If you are truly worried, then perhaps you should try using this time of Advent as an opportunity for prayer and fasting. Give your heart to the Lord, and trust that all things really do work for the good for those who love Him, even if you don't like or understand it at the time. Someday, God-willing, you might see clearly.

Gagdad Bob said...

For me, the whole notion of sexual freedom has been one of the last cultural dominoes to fall, so to speak, in that there is part of me that still identifies with that cool ethos, even though it personally did me no good, and caused a lot of psychic damage. The reason it is the last domino to fall must have something to do with it being the first to be put in place. And sure enough, there's a new book on exactly this subject, Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics. Haven't read it yet, but it's on the list. Seems that if you can link ideology to a primordial instinct, you're truly doing the devil's heavy lifting. They do the same thing with envy, of course. And greed. And wrath. And sloth. And pride. Where I live, in an affluent progressive district, they've got gluttony under control, because most people are in decent physical condition. Then again, it's probably just vanity.

Gagdad Bob said...

Just read the article, and I see he mentions Eberstadt. Sobering

Anonymous said...

Paul Volcker has also died. My metaphysical sense tells me that he’s in the great beyond sporting angel wings. Unfortunately, I can’t get out of my mind the image of Carroll Spinney with his Oscar the Grouch puppet also sporting angel wings, following poor Paul around talking economics and garbage. I hope that heaven is better than that. But Paul did once say this:

“There is no force on earth that can stand up effectively, year after year, against the thousands of individuals and hundreds of millions of dollars in the Washington swamp aimed at influencing the legislative and electoral process”
-- Paul Volcker

julie said...

The reason it is the last domino to fall must have something to do with it being the first to be put in place.

I've often thought sexuality, being one of the most powerful drives, is very much like a massive body of water. Constrained and properly channeled, it gives life, builds families, makes people strive to be better than they are, and ultimately creates a thriving civilization. Unconstrained, it acts instead like a tidal wave or a bursting dam, destroying everything within its path.

***

Re. Volcker's quote, he's probably right, which is why it's important to put your trust instead in the Lord.

Anonymous said...

Hello all, good evening. I hope everyone will have a satisfying supper.

Julie, your comment of 11:54 is interesting. I like the metaphor of the massive body of water and I sense you have something there.

Sexuality, like all things comes from God, so we can presume God is a sexual being (or He would not have known how to create us this way). A distasteful thought, but it does hang together.

Sex is a fount of blessings as you have noted. We would not be here without sex.

But on some level it gets tawdry. You can make love, or you can f*ck. You can feel loving desire, or you can be horny. We're not talking about constraints here. There seems to be some qualitative element to sex. It has to be sex + something else. It's a combo load.

Each individual engages with their sex drive uniquely. Chastity may not be optimum for all but it has been shown to be the best way to get the full benefits of sex.

The drive itself comes pre-installed, and some unfortunates find they have been equipped with an inverted drive and are attracted to the same sex or to objects. Again God has His hands in this, and that is an uncomfortable thought but it does hang together.

In the end, sexuality is astonishingly complex, and is always intermixed with emotions, thoughts, and volition, and God is deeply involved in sexuality from the git go.

My intuition tells me Earth is the place for sh*t to happen, because sh*t don't happen in heaven. And nothing stirs things up like sex.

Now I've gotten randy. Oh honey, watcha doin?

-Mons Veneris

Anonymous said...

Has anybody ever done it with puppets?

julie said...

Aaaand this is why we can’t have nice things.

Anonymous said...

But Carroll Spinney lived well working with puppets.

Anonymous said...

Seriously now, I don't understand how prevailing sexual mores impacts my mechanics ability to just do the job I've paid them to do. Or my doctors. Or half the people I try to do business with who give me unprofessional results.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:29

Alright now, that's enough of your bellyaching. I suppose nothing is ever your fault. Is that how it is?

Are you a soldier of God or aren't you? If you are, then gird your loins, sharpen your bayonet, or whatever you have to do to prepare for battle.

We don't want any crybabies in this regiment. Is that clear? You will arise each day and give the enemy pure hell. Because you are tough, you are righteous. Understood?

Alright, snap to it. And tomorrow's action report had better indicate some valor was applied.

-Centurion Marcus Flavius

-

Anonymous said...

Onward Christian Soldiers. With puppets. Very stern puppets. And not at all sexual.

Van Harvey said...

From the end notes of the article Julie referenced: "... In our case, one could argue that the sexual revolution began in the late 1960’s, lasted throughout the 70’s and possibly into the early 1980’s..."

I'd argue that the loosening began, not in the 60's, but the 20's (the Flappers, Mae West, F. Scott Fitzgerald, etc), which puts the 60's-80's as the 'having their cake and eating it too' generation, and ours in the beginning part of the collapse. Which [glancing around] seems about right... at least for popular culture.

I retain some hopefulness, in that we do live in one historical first that's actually a good one: Ours is the first generation era in history, where 'the masses' have direct access to history and to the best thinking of history, without having to pass through the gatekeepers of the elites interpretation of it (if at all).

Despite what is presented in popular culture, there are significant numbers of the younger members of society, who realize the errors made by their elders. Whether they choose wisely in their responses, or not, is... yet to be seen, but that's what makes history less a matter of flow charting, than horse racing.