Oh, I know. The quarantine. The increased slack resulted not only in a greater quantity of reading, but -- and maybe this was providential -- a much deeper quality of reading, what with the Voegelin binge.
As far as I'm concerned, he takes us as deep into the cosmos as we can go, at least from the noetic (i.e., pneumo-cognitive) side of things. The pneumatic (mystico-experiential) side is another matter. Perhaps we'll veer into that modality when we formally retire, which, with any luck, will be in about six months.
Until the quarantine, I'd been thinking that retirement would solve the enduring problem of the Great Sequel. But now I have to rethink that, because it is by no means self-evident that more free time equates to more containment of the Mystery, or taming of the bucking cosmos. No, it only aggravates the Mystery in an exponential way. I don't want to say that it leaves me more confused, because that's not it at all. More... how to put it?
It's more like, say, one hour of input requires three or four hours of output, so I need to either reduce the former or increase the latter. At the very least, I need to write every day just so as to keep from sinking beneath the waves. I guess I don't mind writing every day, but who on earth wants to read me every day? Isn't that a little tedious?
Whatever. Nothing I can do about that. In any event, let's try to knock one of these books from the pile. It's called Political Apocalypse, which sounds ridiculously timely, no?
I've told you before that when I do a deep dive into this or that thinker's body of work, I often *imagine* they're contacting me directly via the ether or whatever you wish to call it. "Nonlocal operators standing by, ready to assist you," and all that.
Now, if you really appreciate how weird this cosmos is -- and I've tried to tell you -- then this really isn't weird at all. Voegelin wishes desperately to be understood, and nothing about this has changed just because he's no longer with us biologically. (I promise to do the same once I leave earth behind and go looking for Bo Diddley.)
Remember when Jesus says "I am with you to the end of the age"? Not only is this not remotely implausible, he's not the only one. He may be the 800 lb guerrilla, but there are other spiritual warriors hiding in the burning bushes, trees of life, the mycelial network, etc. And look, they're everywhere, okay? True hallucinations. You just have to surrender to the process, and the process will come to you.
No, I'm not just in a queer mood this morning. Here's a passage I read just yesterday from Eric Voegelin: Philosopher of History. He's right here, sitting across the table and reminding us that
To the extent that men are actually philosophers in the original sense, they are engaged in an experiential, mystical ascent to luminous participation in existential truth.
Are we not men? Are we not philosophers? Are we not mystically ascending to luminous participation in existential truth? Are we not Coons? YES! WE! ARE! Someone has to do it, and it has come down to us. And it goes like this:
the movement of the soul into luminosity of existence is simultaneously a human seeking [↑] and a divine drawing [O, the Great Attractor].
That's pretty commonplace and experience-near, but here's where it gets a little more interesting:
the breakthrough is not simply a human endeavor; there is also a divine breakthrough or irruption into man, and there is no way that this can be predicted. It takes place where and in whom it will.
So there is the human (↑) into God or O; but this is necessarily complemented by the divine (↓) into man. Why necessarily? That's a largish subject, so at this point let's just posit it as a hypothesis and focus on the notion that God "irrupts" from time to time -- or timelessness to time -- in man. Is this even conceivable?
Wrong question. I would state it conversely: is it even conceivable that the human person isn't a vertically open system that receives and metabolizes divine energies? It only happens all the time (even if it happens quintessentially and fully only in the Incarnation).
Unless one closes oneself off from the divine energies, a pathological condition Voegelin describes in exquisite detail. The problem there is that once you've experienced it you need no further proof, and if you haven't experienced it, then no amount of proof is sufficient.
Here's another quote, selected more or less at random, or via lectio divina flippia:
The substance of philosophy is not to to be found in the philosopher's ideas but in the ascent that he enacts, in response to divine calling and grace.
But again, one can always deny the ascent and/or resist the pull. Free will. Or won't, rather. Closure against reality is always an option, but just know what you're not getting yourself into, okay?
The tension of longing may feel too painful; one may prefer an illusion of certainty to the challenge of epistemic existence in truth.... Where this willingness is lacking, one may avert one's gaze and seek refuge in opinions.
I still want to get to the Political Apocalypse. With any luck we can knock that one off the desk in the next post.