Thursday, April 23, 2020

When Your Mind Needs a Sewer

An object of the senses must somehow be rendered immaterial in order to be understood, otherwise it remains entirely preconceptual and unthinkable; nor, for that matter, can one sense be combined with another unless it takes place in an immaterial space that transcends matter. Again, a wholly material world wouldn't even be unintelligible, because an absence of intelligibility implies an intelligibility that is unthinkable in such a world.

So, how does the intelligibility get in here? And the intelligence to know and understand it? And what about the "space" in which these occur? The soul is incorporeal, which means that it takes up no space at all. Or so we have heard from the wise. If that's the case, then why is my head always so crowded?

These are such basic questions -- in fact, among the first questions the human being asks once he has located food, shelter, and beer.

Recall too that ears know nothing of light, as eyes know nothing of sound (at least without a little help from a psychoactive friend). And yet, the senses are effortlessly integrated within the higher space of our minds.

Except when they aren't. I'm thinking in particular of more serious forms of mental illness, a hallmark of which is the dis-integration of the senses and fragmentation of identity.

It's been awhile since we discussed how this intrapsychic process works, but it is no doubt relevant in these unusual times, when so many people are stressed as a result of an "invisible enemy." This is practically an invitation to a mental breakdown for those vulnerable to one. As they say, adversity introduces a man to himself.

More problematically, it may introduce a man to split-off parts of himself, which are projected into the external world. The person then reacts to this menacing and persecutory world with fear and anxiety, but it's preferable to having the feared object inside one's head.

I sometimes check in on CNN or MSNBC in order to take the emotional temperature of the progressive psyche. At the moment it's COVID-19 hysteria 24/7, but it wasn't that long ago when it was Russia hysteria 24/7. Well, I've traced the fear, and it's coming from inside their heads:

What we call "splitting"

is analogous to the chick's unlearned response to the perception of the hawk's wing pattern. The chick's reaction is to flee and not attack the hawk (unless cornered), i.e., to separate itself from the danger. I understand splitting to be a similarly biologically determined mode of managing danger (Ogden).

Sounds like a bit of a stretch, but what's a chick supposed to do when the hawk is inside her head? What would Rachel Maddow do without President Trump? "Primitive psychological defenses" such as splitting and projection are "built upon the biologically determined effort to create safety by distancing the endangered from the endangering":

Projection, for example, can be understood as an effort in phantasy to remove an internal danger by locating the danger outside of oneself, i.e., separating oneself from it as if it were located in another (ibid.).

So, when I check in on the MSM, it's to find out what they're projecting and into whom they're projecting it. Actually, the former changes, while the latter is always the same: the dreaded Orange Man, Eater of Left Wing Projections.

In my lifetime, nothing and no one has been the receptacle of so much left wing projection as has our current president. Interestingly, there is a psychoanalytic term of art for such an object. It will no doubt make you chuckle until you think about it and realize how apt it is. In order for projection to occur,

there must be a conception of a container into which the projection can be sent. In other words, there must be an object which has depth so as to be able to contain the projection.... Klein's conception of the toilet breast corresponds to this entity (Grotstein).

Maybe this sounds crazy -- and it is -- but Klein didn't just make it up. For example, the Aztec had a goddess known as Tlazōlteōtl, the "eater of filth," a transparent psychic projection who functioned to purify people of their guilt: "Sins were symbolized by dirt. Her dirt-eating symbolized the ingestion of the sin, and in doing so purified it."

Orange Man Bad is the means by which our Bluefolk -- journalists, entertainers, the tenured -- imagine they purify themselves of what the rest of us can see is so obviously wrong with them.

What? Of course there are aphorisms:

The sewers of history sometimes overflow, as in our time.

When handling today’s events, the future historian will have to wear gloves (Dávila).

Nietzsche too:

The soul must have its chosen sewers to carry away it ordure.

Monday, April 20, 2020

God is a Rock but He Also Rolls

Pithy and precise: "The object of sense is a sensible, and the object of intellect is an intelligible" (Brennan).

The surface of my laptop is sensible, but I am deploying my fingers to both seek and describe an intelligible object. At the moment I'm not in contact with this object, nor am I yet in its orbit, but I have faith that I will be, since it's happened so many times before. For those keeping score at home, this is post #3,416.

Before I commenced to blogging, it was more as if I were attempting to force intelligibles into existence as opposed to merely discovering them. In the argot of sports, you should let the game come to you. Then again, I suppose a sort of apprenticeship is necessary, otherwise one will have no medium of discovery or expression.

Analogously, I could sit down at the piano and use my fingers to discover a musical intelligible, but the object wouldn't be very deep or complex. Once one masters an instrument, then one may use it to discover music and snatch a tune from the ether.

A musical object exists in time, whereas a spiritual object... Here we come to a difference between the Judeo-Christian stream and all others, because our object is indeed deployed in time; or, to be perfectly accurate, it is simultaneously in and out of time. This, they say, is one of the scandals of Christianity, since it can never be reduced to any abstract formulation.

Why not? Well, ultimately because the ultimate object is a person, and what is a person but a process, a narrative, a relation, a being in time?

In my view, our concept of God had first to be purged of all movement and change before we could understand how to properly apply these categories to him -- similar to how the Trinity could only be revealed once man had been purged of polytheism.

Thus, just as God's threeness can and must be understood in the context of a strict monotheism just so, his "change" must be understood in the context of a strict changelessness. Otherwise we will be imagining something less than God: an idol.

Along these lines, Bishop Barron writes that

Thomas denies of God the changeableness characteristic of creatures, that is to say, a development from nonbeing to being.

But I would argue that this denial by no means implies other types of movement cannot be ascribed to God, viz., those changes that entail not imperfection but perfection, fullness of being.

Cooncur 100%. Being that we are the Image & Likeness, I suspect that most everything essential in human nature -- e.g., love, reason, beauty, goodness, etc. -- must have some analogue in God, however distant.

For example, man can "create," even though, strictly speaking, only God creates. Analogously, could it be that only God changes? This will no doubt sound theologically Messed Up if we don't explain what we mean.

"As a perfection" -- and insofar as it is a perfection -- change "should be rigorously affirmed of [God]. Similarly, the mutability in a beautiful song or an elaborate dance, the changeableness of a lively and vivacious personality -- such perfections are ascribable to the unchanging God of Thomas Aquinas."

Yes, God is a rock, but

utterly unlike the Rock of Gibralter, which is a being at an extremely primitive level of existence. No, the perfect, unchanging God of whom Thomas speaks must be a gyroscope of energy and activity and at the same time a stable rock.

Not either/or but both/and, and then some, a unique object which includes and transcends such binaries. Our gyroscopic God is

a blending of qualities that seem mutually exclusive in creatures. In the words of the mystic theologian pseudo-Dionysius, God must be both great and small, both changing and unchanging, both high and low.... the immutable God, defended by Thomas, is no Aristotelian principle, no uncaring force, but indeed is the God disclosed in Jesus Christ as ungraspable perfection.

Now, this ungraspable subject/object "is the magnet luring the universe into the future." And this post to its conclusion.