Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Conversations with Mysoph

Back in 1963, the great pianist Bill Evans put out a novel album called Conversations with Myself, in which he first lays down the piano parts and then overdubs his spontaneous reactions to them: the result is a pianistic conversation with himself.

Well, the following is my reflection on a series of posts on Balthasar's Theo-Drama. You're welcome to listen in, although I don't recommend it. It's just me conversing with some old tracks initially laid down in 2009: 

Drama — dramatic structure —  is a seemingly intrinsic (or at least unavoidable) way of organizing and understanding the world of experience. 

In our time, what is called "the news" is simply a dramatic structure superimposed on the events of the day, and this structure is very much an inversion and perversion of God's own dramatic structure, featuring heroes, villains, demons, sin, salvation, paradise, and other unavoidably theological categories. 

Suffice it to say that this progressive counter-drama, if it isn't penned by the Evil One, might as well be. At the very least, we can "deduce" the nature of the author by examining and deconstructing his intellectual and morally insane narrative. 

(Note also that this coprophagic narrative sees and digests only the facts it needs in order to maintain itself, which is why it is ontologically, epistemologically, and spiritually closed, and certainly leads to illness and death.)

In fact, you human beings create and inhabit narratives from the moment you can think about reality. Balthasar writes of how the child "translates its world of experience into theatrical terms, conceives things, reacts to them, in speech and in all forms of play.” As such, the dramatic structure isn't something "added to" humanness, but is an expression of  its very nature. 

Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised that revelation appears fundamentally as historical action -- as doing  as opposed to, say, an abstract, atemporal doctrine that can be taken in all at once. This is why no one can or  could understand the revelation narrative until the action -- the drama -- was (or is) fulfilled. 

In any good whodunnit we don’t understand the action until we reach the end. Upon reaching it, the end illuminates what went before — as in how the New Testament unlocks the Old and reveals the telos toward which it had been groping. For Jews who reject the Christian premise, the OT nevertheless points to a messianic fulfillment that hasn’t yet occurred. Our Jewish brethren are still waiting to see how the drama turns out.

Even though the revelation narrative is essentially fulfilled with the Resurrection, it took centuries of collective reflection upon the drama to understand its nature and significance. Remember, the first Christians had no Bible to guide them; rather, only the mostly oral traditions handed on to them (2 Th). The Biblical canon was selected on the basis of this prior tradition, and in so doinga lot of fake nous (e.g., Gnosticism and other heresies) had to be discerned and excluded. 

Plenty of exegetes focus on something Jesus said, or even the totality of what he said, in the absence of the underlying dramatic structure that ties the transhistorical room together. 

But Jesus is unlike any other religious figure, about whom the facts of their lives are inconsequential to the teaching -- any more than the facts of science are determined by the personal biography of their discoverers.  One can study math or physics without getting into Einstein's birth narrative or Newton's manner of death. Gödels logic is sound despite the fact that he wasn’t.

Likewise, intimate details of the lives of Buddha or Muhammad are irrelevant to their messages. On the other hand, know them by their fruits. No sane person attempts to sneak out of the Christian west into Iran, China, or Africa.

(It occurs to me that -- in another inversion of the Christian drama -- progressives do indeed bring in details of the lives of various dramatis personae in order to negate their message -- for example, Jefferson owned slaves, therefore it is racist to say that all matter. Similarly, as a result of evangelical wokeness metastasizing its way through our educational establishment, math is racist, physics is patriarchal, and biology is transphobic.)

Under normal (non-progressive) circumstances God's truth -- or the truth he is trying to convey to us — isn't at all analogous to a scientific truth which can be handed from mind to mind in a cutandry way. What is the truth he is trying to convey? And why must it be presented as historical drama ?

Let’s begin at the top, with God’s dilemma: "how to elicit the Yes of his free partner from the latter's innermost freedom" (Balthasar).  I suppose we could say that God didn’t have any problems until man wandered onto the cosmic stage. Now what? How do you solve a problem like Eve? With one like Maria, I guess.

For Balthasar, the Theo-Drama plays out in the space of the encounter between infinite and finite freedom(s).  But how can God grant man freedom without diminishing his own? And how can man be free if God is both omni-potent and -scient?

Islam distorts the drama by denying man's freedom and attributing everything to God's omnipotence. In Islamist metaphysics there are no secondary causes at all, only The Cause. The mirror image of this is atheistic scientism, which also denies the existence man's free will, if only because "freedom" makes no sense in a world reduced to the permissible categories of material science.

I was reading just yesterday in Barzun’s The Dawn of Decadence of how both Luther and Calvin still situate man in a theo-drama, except that man plays no real role in it. Rather, God is solely responsible for every word and action of the drama, with no co-writing or even executive producer credit for man. Therefore, God is entitled to all the royalties. Man doesn’t earn so much as a penny from the production.

Literally, if you see what I did there. For readers living in Rio Linda, I’m talking about merit, which, for the first 1,500 years of Christianity, was thought to be a consequence of our free cooperation with God’s (free) grace, which in turn fuels the dramatic tension. It's the energy that makes the adventure go.

Conversely, Luther and and Calvin literally eradicate our free participation in the drama by making grace irresistible and salvation inalterable, rooted in God’s decree from all time. We can neither refuse nor consent to our own salvation. There’s still drama, of course, but now it revolves around wondering and worrying whether to not we are among the elect. There’s nothing we can do to effect our salvation, but this doesn’t stop them from looking for signs and hints and clues that we’re in there with God.

At this point I could easily veer into the subject of how the implicit structure of this Luthero-Calvinist doctrine applies to the woke volk of the left and their totalitarian blather about white privilege, structural racism, and the sanctity of sexual perversion.  But this conversation with myself has gone on long enough, so to be continued...

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

I Let a Song Go Out of My Head

When my son was two, or three, or four, we could always tell when he'd awakened, because he would immediately burst into song. Even before he could speak, he'd be scatting some improvised melody. Similarly, in his Boogie Chillen, John Lee Hooker relates how layin' down one night I heard mama n' papa talkin' / I heard papa tell mama, let that boy boogie-woogie / It's in him, and it got to come out.

Same. Woke up this morning with a head full of cosmic boogie. 

We're still preoccupied with upper case History. One thing is certain, however: man is to history as is...

As is history to man, I guess: no man, no history, and vice versa. For us, existence is a historical process; time isn't mere duration, but "developmental time," and this development is in the direction of "maturity" in various levels and dimensions, i.e., biological, emotional, interpersonal, intellectual, aesthetic, political, spiritual, etc. 

While everything else is in process too, human beings are the only processes in creation aware of being in process: man is a conscious process. From where? And to what? Or around what? Is there an axis? A telos? A ground? 

We can debate this all day long, but beneath or behind such debate there lurk different modes or implicit conceptions of Be-ing. One can't really debate a materialist, for example, because the materialist violates his first principle by embracing the immaterial ideology of materialism.  

Either matter cannot think, or we need to rethink what matter is; if vulgar materialism were true, we could never know it (nor anything else). So we can toss out any materialistic conception of history. 

Which is why we can affirm on such an a priori  basis that leftists are idiots, in the literal (etymologically speaking) sense of existing in a dis-ordered private world cut off from public reality.  

As they say, reality is that which, when we stop believing in it, doesn't go away. And no matter how hard man tries, he can never make transcendence go away. But why does he wish to make it go away, when it's where all the real fun awaits? That's another story -- or the same old story, rather, AKA Genesis 3 All Over Again.

Not to belabor that point, but what is the essence of man's fallenness but rejection of the transcendent absolute, even while covertly appropriating and immanetizing it? From the mythic Tower of Babel to the magic babble of tenure, the deep structure never changes. For which reason Voegelin never tires of reminding us that the essence of modernity is gnosticism.  

Well well well, here's a little something I found while looking up that quote: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=2979

The theology of history asks the question of intelligibility about the unity and significance of man's historical record. This theology extends back beyond man to the cosmological problem itself and to God in His activity concerning man. "The point at issue," Berdyaev suggests, "is this: must man be interpreted in terms of the cosmos or the cosmos in terms of man? Is human history a subordinate part of the cosmic process or is the cosmic process a subordinate part of human history?"

As is true of such questions, they aren't vicious dualisms but generative orthoparadoxes: man and cosmos mutually illuminate one another in the luminous space between. God reveals himself in no fewer than two books, one of which is the Book of Nature. There is also the book of revelation, but neither can be read without the miracle of intelligent subjectivity emanating from the great I AM. Ultimately the Light is always a trinitarian spiral between Persons.

Schall continues: 

movements from the early Protestant visionaries who sought to set up the Kingdom of God on earth to rationalism, liberalism, communism, and fascism are basically gnostic in the sense that they attempt to set up a final order, a salvation order on earth which is based on humanity as its source.

Our leftist Gnostics are indeed "protestants," but what they are protesting -- always and everywhere -- is the nature of things, most especially human nature. If you can maim that, then everything else falls into place. You're doing Satan's heavy lifting.

We are engaged in a gnostic war, or a war on gnosticism. Same as it ever was, only now backed by big tech, or the state-media-cultural-big tech complex. 

 "All of these gnostic movements," writes Schall, "see themselves as absolutes, all qualified and commissioned to impose their vision of life on other men." Obama and Sharpton and AOC and Pelosi all know better than we do how to run our lives, because they have access to the Gnostic secret while we don't. While it's true that they're contemptuous of us, that's not the point. Rather, they don't need us but we need them, so we need to be grateful for their selfless service on our behalf.

More generally, political Gnostics "seek to reconstruct society through specialized scientific gnosis according to their own theories of what society should be like... projecting a world-view upon reality based upon [their] own idea of what reality is like."

The central psychic movement of our cretinous overlords "is precisely the attempt to locate the cause of order in an intellectual vision of the world centered in man and the categories of his thought. Correlative to this, there is always the attempt to reshape the world according to this vision."

But the real vision is the vision of the founders, which acknowledges the transcendent Other in whom our rights and duties are grounded, and with whom we are in permanent dialectic. Yes we are "conservative," but what we specifically wish to conserve is this radical vision of which there could be no more radical, for it is the Last Word on the subject of Who Man Is and what sort of government is appropriate to his unique cosmic status. 

Conversely, so called radical progressives are true reactionaries and metacosmic heretics, for 

heresies are always conservative and reactionary in spirit, merely echoing the predominant trends of the intellectual thought of the times, while the Faith faced with the same problems proves to be existential and dynamic in its approach to reality.

In conclusion,  

the structure of the world is not man's to form. Gnosis is just the opposite for it implies that the world is wholly open to man's intellect.... The result of this theory, in every form, is the reconstruction of a mythological world based on a projection of man's own views. Man no longer, therefore, stands to the absolute as receiver but as maker, he becomes, as Genesis tells, like god.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Traditional Theo-Drama and Progressive Melodrama

I suppose we could go back to what is perhaps Voegelin's main point, which is that what we call history plays out in the space between immanence and transcendence. Total immersion in immanence would result in no history; rather, we would be as animals, plunged into instinct and bound by neurology. We'd still be in "time," of course, but it wouldn't be human -- which is to say, historical -- time. 

Nor could history exist in a context of complete transcendence, because transcendence is timeless. 

No man, no history, and vice versa. We're in this thing together until the end.

So here we abide, in this ambiguous space of verticality, churning out our symbolic representations of various kinds, from history to anthropology to philosophy to religion, in the attempt to gain our bearings within the dual process-structure of self-other and time-eternity. But we can never actually fully arrive at the fa(r)ther shore, because to do so would negate our immanence -- our seeworthy sonship.

At the same time, I suppose we could say that nondual mystical doctrines are about negating immanence, precisely. According to Vedanta, we can indeed enter a realm of pure transcendence -- Nirguna Brahman -- only we can't be there to enjoy it.

D'oh! Or rather, T'ao!

Here is a Buddhist take on the subject, plucked randomly from the shelf: What is man's life? A bubble on the stream, / Raised by the splashing rain, which merrily / Dances along the swiftly gliding wave / Full of apparent life, then suddenly / Bursts and disappears, leaving no trace behind / To mark hereafter the place that for a few moments it had occupied. --Zeisho Aisuko 

Later in the same passage he compares life to a transient summer moth, a frail banana leaf, an insubstantial shadow, and an enticing dream about a sham reality. All of these descriptions are true as far as they go, and indeed, the Bible contains similar gripes about the vanity of life. I could say more about transient shams and frail banana leaves that won't outlast the summer, but this post isn't about Biden. 

To back up a bit, in my spare timelessness I've been nonthinking a great deal about History. Not this or that history, but History as such. As in, what is it? 

In so doing, I reread a number of books on the nature of historical fallacies, which are mostly helpful in explaining what history is not. But not only do they not tell us what history actually is, I think it's accurate to say that most any midwit historian of tenure would assure us that it is Fallacy #1 to imagine that history can have any such ultimate meaning.

I would agree that this is self-evidently true from within history. It's analogous to the truism that science can have no intrinsic or ultimate meaning from within science; that latter fallacy is scientism, while the former is historicism.

And yet, you will have no doubt noticed how leftist historians smuggle meaning into their imaginary narratives, as do atheistic scientists into science.  

Back for a moment to Voegelin and Balthasar, while they come at the problem from different perspectives, both agree that Truth is something that plays out in history. As in the case of science, our symbolic representations can and will proceed until the end of time, without ever arriving at the end. 

Anyway, yesterday while wandering around the UCLA campus, a thought bubbled to the surface of the headspace: that the Narrative is the left's Theo-Drama. Bear in mind that the Theo-Drama simply is. It is where man lives, has always lived, and will always live -- in the dramatic tension between immanence and transcendence.

Now, revelation is obviously of a different order from the manmode myths we tell ourselves -- i.e., our own little attempts to symbolize the tension between immanence and transcendence, which we can never actually accomplish. 

But the revealed myth comes from the other side of the divide, descending into history, in contrast to our attempts to ascend out of it (whether through meditation, prayer, political activism, drugs, whatever). 

As soon as this thought popped into my head, I knew it was true: that the Narrative is the left's Theo-Drama. Not only does it organize the progressive mind, everything that happens is easily assimilated into the myth. For example, the national crime wave has suddenly appeared on their radar. How to account for it? It's because of Republicans and their dangerous nonsense about defunding the police! 

Similarly, given the improbable results of the last election, the great majority of Americans are rightly concerned about preventing future election fraud. No they're not! They're Jim Crow racists fomenting the worst national crisis since the Civil War!  

Examples are endless, but you get the point (for example, any weather proves AGW, i.e., the theory is unfalsifiable and therefore not science). The Narrative explains everything and therefore nothing. Well, it does explain one thing, albeit on a meta-level: the implicit structure of the left's faux-atheistic Theo-Drama.

And now that I think about it, "drama" isn't quite the right word, for it's always a melodrama, isn't it? Moreover, it's always hysterical (in the literal sense, in that it is animated by a disordered collective female psyche). 

Melodrama: a sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events intended to appeal to the emotions

Oooooooh, that's a bingo!

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

When the Author of History Enters His Play

Okay, there's gotta be an easier way than slogging through 2,700 pages of Balthasar's five-volume Theo-Drama to understand his point. After all, the whole Bible -- both testaments -- comes to about half that. Then again, John did end his gospel with the caveat that if one were to attempt to document everything about Jesus, "the world itself could not contain the books that would be written."

Balthasar: "Hold my beer."

What is the lazy man to do? Oh, right. I saved myself the obligation of reading the Theo-Drama by having previously read it over a decade ago, mostly in 2009. All I had to do was search "Theo-Drama" on the blog, and 12 items come up, one in 2007, one in 2017, and ten between April and June of 2007, when I  read most of the the material and subsequently forgot all about it.

But did I actually forget it, or did something else happen to the information? In other words, did the material just dissipate into the ether, or did it undergo some sort of transformation after floating into my head -- the same way food does after entering one's mouth? Analogously, I've had a lot of meals over the years, more than I can remember. But just because I can't remember them doesn't mean they didn't enter  into and become me.

Besides, isn't that the point of reading? To weave truth and light into our substance so as to maintain our health and strength? True, there is reading for mere pleasure, or escapism, or information, but that's not the sort of reading we do around here -- unless we are just very tired and incapable of comprehending anything deep, wide, and high.

Let's see if we can overcome our retrospective embarrassment and find out if there's anything back there worth dredging up from the past:

In the Theo-Drama, Balthasar likens God's involvement in history to a stage play that reconciles the problems of divine and human freedom -- which is to say, the paradox of infinite and finite freedom. 

For example, "facing forward," it always looks like we have a more or less radical existential freedom -- at least those of us privileged to live in the West.
But "facing backward," it often seems as if our freedom was more or less an illusion.... as if  one's life were being dreamt by a "supraconscious" (or infraconscious) "dreamer" of whom we were unaware at the time.
Yesterday we discussed the idea of spatial, "geometrical" truth vs. temporal, "musical" truth. Our lives are a combination of geometry and music, of adventure and law, of harmony and melody, of freedom within the constraints of some kind of hidden necessity. Our "life" consists of the more or less winding road we take to re-arrive where we startled and even jumped into our skin. In the words of the Poet, And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time.
Now, Balthasar has an interesting take on the Trinity and its relation to the cosmic theo-drama. The Jesus of history, because he was all-man, had to be fundamentally no different than the rest of us in this respect. 
As such, just like us, he couldn't fully know or understand the nature of the drama in which he was situated. If he had known, then his passion would have been something less than that, more of a detached "dispassion," as he simply "played out the clock" -- as in a one-sided basketball game, in anticipation of the buzzer-beating resurrection.
Thus, just like us in our own lives, Jesus had an element of horizontal freedom -- which is to say existential nothingness -- within the constraints of a much larger drama in which he was taking part. While he obviously had "hints" of a larger purpose -- as indeed we all do -- the human Jesus could not have been privy to the whole script. 
And in fact, Balthasar uses the metaphor of playwright, director, and actor to conceptualize the situation. The Father is "playwright"; the Son is "actor"; and the Holy Spirit is "director." As Edward Oakes explains, 
"a successful theatrical production always depends on the harmonious cooperation of three freedoms, which are not however equal: for the director must serve the script and the actor must serve both; yet the actor cannot simply afford to be an automaton if the production is to be successful: some unnamed element... must be engaged if the play is to emerge before the audience as playwright and director intended it." 
As Sachs (quoted in Oakes) writes, "The fact that the actor-Son has the responsibility to play the role given him by the author-Father, as 'whispered' to him in each moment by the prompter-Spirit, does not exclude the actor-Son's interpretive freedom. On the contrary, it assumes it and provides the material in which his freedom as an actor can become concrete. Therefore, although the author has a definite primacy with regard to the actor and the prompter (or director), it is by no means a tyrannical relationship. The author continues to be present in his work but as one who opens up the creative 'space' of the part."
Back to our own lives, in which there is a curious freedom that accompanies surrendering to that which we are and He Who Is. Looking back at our lives, we can see that we were least free when we thought we had the most freedom, and most free when we finally gave up the faux freedom. 
Balthasar compares it to the artist who moves from the persecutory space of being tormented by indecision and infinite possibility, until he is finally "possessed by the idea inspiring him and surrenders himself completely to its imperious and peremptory demands." 
So history -- both personal and collective -- is a God-given space of freedom in which we are free to choose the path back to ourselves and to God. Some roads get there faster than others; some are more scenic and beautiful, others more painful (in fact, all inevitably involve both beauty and suffering). Still others arrest the journey altogether -- e.g., leftism -- unless one returns to that fork in the road and reorients.

To be continued....

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Open Thread Head

What can we say besides "open thread"? I realize that all manner of spiritual and emotional retard are enlivened at the prospect of leaving a flaming bag of moonbat droppings on my doorstep, but I don't even use that door, so there's no point. It's just a decoy. I inhere in here, in the ineffable celestial hammock, which neither tongue nor dung has ever soiled.  

Beyond that, I have nothing new to report. As related awhile back, retirement seems to have spread from the extremities to the core, or from the accident to the substance, although in my case I suspect that retirement is the substance. 

For it is one thing to be the laziest man in Los Angeles County in potential, another thing to finally, after years of strategic non-doodling, to actualize this potential. Truly, this is to be nonactualized -- or to be actualized into an emphatically radical apophatical sabbatical. 

Am I actually doing nothing? Yes, and it takes all day to get it done. I suppose I really am a human invert, a Homo Slackiens, a type O personality, an in-activist, an unfashionable leisure coot, in that my ways are not their ways, nor are my thoughts their thoughts.

Still having plenty of the latter, but they float in from God-knows-where and drift past like clouds in the fog. 

This follows Eckhart's fivefold plan to the letter:

Leave place, leave time, 

Avoid even image!

Go forth without a way

On the narrow path, 

Then you will find the desert track.

Says Bernard McGinn,

A mysticism based upon a "wayless way" to an unknown God of absolute freedom can only bear fruit in a "whylessness" that will probably seem either empty of meaning or potentially dangerous to those who know nothing of it.

Yeah, probably. So don't take it from me. Take it from Nicolás:

God is the guest of silence. 

In certain moments of abundance, God overflows into the world like a spring gushing into the peace of midday. 

God is not the object of my reason, nor of my sensibility, but of my being.  

The soul is fed from what is mysterious in things. 

We are saved from daily tedium only by the impalpable, the invisible, and the ineffable.

I only contemplate wisps of truth that twist in the night gusts.

The believer is not the inheritor of estates inscribed in land registries but is the admiral of the sea fronting the coasts of an unexplored continent.

And finally,

A man is wise if he has no ambition for anything but lives as if he had an ambition for everything.

 

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Journey to the Center of the Cosmos

In keeping with our themes of Christian nihilism and Dudist abiding, I reread an essay by Peiper -- the limber lama of leisure -- on the ins & outs of these complicated subjects.

The Resistance. Just how does one resist a totalitarian worker state that seeks to enclose man in the Matrix, in service to the Conspiracy?  "In the long run, the only adequate resistance" involves rediscovery and realization of the idea that "we work in order to have leisure."

Yes, but what is leisure for? That's the point: it is for nothing, bearing in mind that nothing isn't just anything. It must be distinguished from the mere nothing of nihilists, pacifists, and other perverts lacking any real ethos. In this context, "doing nothing" would be the opposite of the One True Leisure:

we work in order to do something, in order to be able to do something that is not work. What sort of activity is being referred to here? Recreation, entertainment, amusement, play -- none of these is meant here. 

Bowling excepted.

No, what we're talking about here is "activity which is meaningful in itself." Work, for example, is indeed meaningful, but not for itself, rather, for the sake of other things. 

This touches on the original meaning of "liberal arts," which were in contradistinction to the servile arts. One might say that the purpose of the latter is to provide us the slack to indulge in the former -- as in how John Adams studied the arts of politics and war in the hope that his sons might have the slack to pursue mathematics and philosophy, and their children to fool around with painting, poetry, and music.

Of course, nowadays the liberal arts have been subsumed by the servile and worse; indeed, a man who does an honest day's labor with his hands is infinitely preferable to those tenured vulgarians who have transformed the liberal arts into a club with which to beat the restavus into ideological submission. The humanities now serve only to further our dehumanization. 

Yes, literally, bearing in mind the related questions of 1) what is a person?, and 2) what are persons for 

Clearly, it is only possible to give an answer to this if one has a particular conception of the human person. What concerns us here is nothing less than the fulfillment of human existence. In what does this fulfillment consist?

The lapidary leisurist speaks for me and perhaps a few other cosmic misfits: "The answer offered by Western tradition would be this: whenever, when seeing, watching, contemplating"

we make make contact with the center of the world, with the hidden, ultimate meanings of life as a whole, with the divine root of things, with the quintessence of all archetypes... wherever and whenever we turn in this way to reality as a whole, we are involved in activity which is meaningful in itself.  

I'm gonna guess that contemplating reality as a whole requires the whole of man. 

To know God with all that we are: the very infinity of the object of knowledge requires the totality of the act of knowing.... he who wants the center must realize the whole (Schuon).

This contemplative contact with the Center of the world requires "an attitude of receptive openness and listening silence -- an attitude, therefore, which is completely contrary to the attitude of labor, i.e., of strained activity." Rather, "the fulfilling things in life... come to us only when we are able to receive them as gift" (Pieper).

This checks out. For example,

The routine is the preferred scene of epiphanies.

In reality the only worthwhile thing is the spontaneous fruit of forgotten meditations.

Religion is not a set of solutions to known problems, but a new dimension of the universe. The religious man lives among realities that the secular man ignores, but he does not hold the key to a riddle. Religious peace is not the peace of the problem solved, but of the love accepted. --Dávila x 3

Monday, June 14, 2021

Making Time for Nothing

Here's a pithy little formulation by Schuon that bears somewhat on doing nothing, AKA non-doing. "Spirituality," he writes, "includes four principal elements," the first of which

cuts man off from the current of profane life; the second empties the soul of illusory contents; the third infuses the discursive intelligence with divine Light; the fourth essentially brings about deification.

Alternatively, 

This could be formulated as follows: in renunciation the soul leaves the world; in purification the world leaves the soul; in meditation God enters the soul; in continual prayer the soul enters God.

(This reminds me of the pneumaticons in the book -- e.g., (---), (o), (↓), and (↑) in relation to O.)

Along these lines, over the past several weeks a phrase keeps popping into my head: Christian nihilism. Of course, this shares nothing in common with the vulgar nihilism of the left, nor with mere fatalism, stoicism, or resignation. 

For one thing, it's a joyous nihilism (or innocent and childlike) because it has only to do with this (or that, rather) world, not the next; moreover, the latter is already here, bisecting this one, i.e., The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Living at the intersection of heaven and earth is where it's at. If not, to hell with it.

Elsewhere in the same book Schuon alludes to the rottenness of this world, for which there are compensatory graces unique to the challenges posed by the civilizational decay surrounding us; come to think of it, this is like an inverse analogy of the communist idea of "the worse, the better" (better because it means the glorious revolution is that much closer). 

Schuon agrees that "there are advantages to this [cultural] evil itself," but (obviously) for totally different reasons from those purely destructive Marxist devils such as Piven & Cloward; specifically, 

the world has become so emptied of substance that it is hard for a spiritual man to be too attached to it.... In former times worldliness was all the more seductive for having aspects of intelligence, nobility, and plenitude; it was far from being wholly contemptible as it is in our day.

Our elites and their institutions are indeed wholly contemptible. What spiritually awakened person could ever wish to take part in this malevolent farce except in opposition to it? 

But this opposition is the precise opposite of "reactionary," because it is rooted in the loving affirmation -- intellectual, spiritual, and experiential -- of a higher reality (or just say reality). 

Note also that "lower reality" makes no sense except in the context of the higher; to the extent that it becomes an autonomous dimension detached from its vertical source, this devolves to the vulgar nihilism of the tenured, i.e., accidental intelligence combined with axiomatic stupidity.

If we were merely opposed to this principled stupidity of the left, it would be a form of counterfeit slack, still rooted in an attachment to the world and its seductive appearances. But our attachment is again to truth, AKA the real. Compared to this reality, the world is literally but a dream, or even "a dream woven of dreams." What else could it be if the intellect weren't an adequation (in potential) to the real?

We cannot  doubt that truth is infinitely real and precious and that its absence must therefore imply a sort of inverted infinity.

Exactly. Absent our adherence to Truth -- at once saving and liberating -- the material world becomes a vast and necessarily meaningless psychiatric prison. Which it is, but the doors are locked from the inside.

Modern man, even when he stumbles upon a truth, never follows it all the way back and up; and any truth detached from the Absolute becomes no truth at all; one might say it takes revenge on the intelligence that pretends it can exist apart from Intelligence as such, i.e., Celestial Central. 

(Quoted material from Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts https://www.amazon.com/dp/193331642X/ref=as_sl_pc_tf_til?tag=onecos-20&linkCode=w00&linkId=f86b12483b9ef2311a292cf307aed833&creativeASIN=193331642X)

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Doing Nothing vs. Doing Nothing

Back in my days as a "productive" citizen, I never took a long vacation -- maybe two weeks at the most -- the reason being that I always suspected that if I unplugged from the Matrix for too long, I'd float away and be unable to readapt to its unnatural demands.  

For related reasons, I never worked on a full-time basis, because my career meant nothing to me while my freedom meant everything. As we've discussed in the past, timelessness takes a great deal of time. You can't just flip on the slack switch Friday afternoon and flip it off Sunday night. 

Rather, you have to arrange your life in such a manner that you're always available for celestial duty when called upon. Of course there are inevitable terrestrial responsibilities, but I've always tried to reduce these to the bare minimum, the better to be available for vertical murmurandoms and other urgent nonsense. 

Come to think of it, back in the early '80s, when I heard about the "voluntary simplicity" movement, it made immediate and total sense to me. I came to regard simplifying my life as equivalent to earning more money. Which it is, except it also results in more time, which is everything. At least for my type. If I didn't have an abundance of unstructured time, I'd literally feel sophicated, gnoseated, and exiled from my omland.  

For me, retirement means complete freedom from the Conspiracy. The last time this occurred was upon graduating high school. I distinctly remember the euphoria of plunging into an endless summer of pure present tense, with no past and certainly no future, the latter being the furthest thing from my mind. Still is. 

This utopian dream or Adventure in Laziness lasted until the fall, when, upon the *advice* of my father, I arose from my ass and obtained a part-time job in a liquor store. There I toiled for up to 12 hours a week, and if I recall correctly, my paycheck amounted to $16.50 a week (minimum wage was $1.65/hr). 

Of course, that was more than sufficient for my simple needs, because it cost exactly $5.00 to fill up my Ford Pinto (gas was around 50 cents a gallon) and exactly $5.25 for a case of Coors. So my paycheck covered one tank + two cases, with enough left over for several Big Macs, which were 45 cents back then.

This is not to say I was an early adopter of voluntary simplicity, being that I was just an involuntary simpleton.  

Then came college, or rather, junior college. Back in high school, people would denigrate it as "high school with ash trays." This was a flippant exaggeration, since it had none of the rigor of high school, although it was more expensive. Back then it literally cost $6.50 a semester -- which my parents generously covered, being that I was again tapped out after gas, beer, and incidentals.

I also tried to arrange my classes so that they required my presence for 90 minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays rather then 60 minutes in Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, thus preserving the all-important four day weekend. I've always considered it sacrilegious to roll on Shabbos, which for me lasted from sundown Thursday until around noon on Tuesday. 

Why am I indulging in all this nostalgia?  Because when I retired last month, I assumed I could limit it to the periphery. However, it seems it has spread from the extremities to the core, such that I don't feel like doing anything, mainly because I'm already nondoing it. I'm no longer leading a double life; rather, my I has become single, which is to say, singly enslackened.

No, it's not that I'm doing nothing. Rather, I'm very much doing nothing. Big difference. But this nothing applies to blogging. I have nothing to add to what I've already said over the past 15+ years. I will, however, have nothing to add. I just don't feel like adding it at the moment, or at least it's presently taking all day to get nothing accomplished. I'm sure this will change as I get acclimated to my new surroundings. 

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Vive la Différence

Or not. In any case, there is a fundamental difference between esoteric and exoteric approaches to the ultimate knowledge, or knowledge of the Ultimate. First, the latter: St. Thomas 

does not admit that an a priori proof of God's existence can be given. He grants indeed that the proposition, God exists, is in itself self-evident, and would therefore be self-evident to us if we had a priori face-to-face knowledge of God (Garrigou-Lagrange).

However, for Thomas "we have no such a priori knowledge." Rather, we must "begin with a nominal definition of God, conceiving him only confusedly, as the first source of all that is real and good in the world." 

As with everything else, we must start at the far end -- in concrete sense experiences -- and subsequently determine whether they "necessitate the actual objective existence of a First Cause" corresponding to our nominal definition of God.

Now, in my opinion, one can work from the senses up to God or from God on down; moreover, I would say that the two approaches are complementary, or in an eternal dialectic. And it is precisely the God-on-down vs. senses-on-up approach that goes to the esoteric-exoteric distinction. I suspect, anyway.

Vis-a-vis the esoteric approach, Laude explains that, in contrast to Thomas, its epistemology isn't a posteriori but a priori: it

sees the act of understanding as presupposing a prior knowledge of the object that is understood, whereas concepts and terms are only occasional means of actualization.

It reminds me of how, just because we have a word for something, it doesn't mean we have any idea what that something is. It's easy enough to prove God exists, but what is God -- besides your own circular conceptual definition? How do we get from the abstract knowledge to the concrete experience -- or as symbolized in the book, from (k) to (n)?

one can only know that which one already knows, often without knowing that one knows it. It follows from the premise of this epistemology that understanding does not, and cannot, depend upon a literal grasp of conceptual terms (Laude).

An analogy. Suppose one wants to prove the existence of music, beginning with sensory experience, i.e., with air vibrations striking the ear drum. While there is a continuity between this and the experience of music, music cannot be reduced to mere sensory stimulation. Rather, it will only be an abstract conception exterior to the realm of music unless and until the music is actually heard; and it isn't heard by adding the discrete sensations together. Rather, the musical composition is prior to our sensory experience of it. 

Same with the divine. Some people just can't hear it, even though their ears are in perfect working order. This is why, for example, I don't respond to the intelligent design people. They're like someone trying to prove the existence of music by looking at how the notes appear to be organized. To say that the cosmos reflects "intelligent design" is simultaneously redundant and insufficient. 

Rather, it is enough to say that intelligence exists, because intelligence participates in the truth it knows; it is the substance of truth, otherwise it would again be purely conceptual and exterior to what it knows. Not only does the soul become what it knows, but it must already be what it knows (in potential), or it could never possess real knowledge. 

This conundrum is solved if we just acknowledge that intelligence and intelligibility are complementary reflections of the one divine substance. Intelligence doesn't just know truth, but participates in it a priori.  

Saturday, May 29, 2021

On Circularity and Absurcularity

I think it's accurate to say that while Thomas begins with the material senses and ascends to the immaterial Principle, Schuon begins at the other end, with the Principle -- or Absolute -- and skis down the mountain to the manifestation below. 

However, once Thomas rises to the Principle, he too schusses down the mountainside, taking everything below into consideration, as illuminated by the Principle(s).

Here's how Fr. Reg describes Thomas's vertical circularity: he 

marches steadily onward to that superior simplicity..., a simplicity pregnant with virtual multiplicity.... the saint's progress is a slow, hard climb to the summit of the mountain, whence alone you can  survey all these problems in a unified solution....

He exemplifies his own teaching on "circular" contemplation, which returns always to one central, pre-eminent thought, better to seize all the force of its irradiation. His principles, few in number but immense in reach, illumine from on high a great number of questions.

Again, the Great Cosmic Circle of coontomplation begins from below, ascends upward, and then returns down, only equipped with the principles that illuminate this downward path.  

Herebelow, things can either exist or not exist, irrespective of their essence. Only at the summit of metaphysics do essence and existence converge, such that in God alone are they one: God's essence is to exist, and existence is his essence. This is the final truth arrived at by reason:

this supreme truth is the terminus, the goal, of the ascending road which rises from the sense world to God, and the point of departure on the descending road, which deduces the attributes of God and determines the relation between God and world.

Snowboarding back down,

Many positions which we have already met on the ascending road now reappear, seen as we follow the road descending from on high. 

So, be nice to those discarnate nonlocal intelligences on the way up, because you'll meet the same ones on the way down.  

For Schuon, all of this is true enough, except he would say it is possible to start at the summit -- or, to be more precise, the "meta-summit." 

He would essentially say that there is Reality and that there are appearances, the latter being a consequence and prolongation of the former. Thus, appearances are at once distinct from the Principle, and yet "not not" the sophsame principle in the mode of appearances.

This realization is possible not just because of the ascent described by Thomas, but because we too are "not not" the Principle. Obviously we are not God, but the fact that we are in his image and likeness means we're not exactly not God either. Frankly, anything purely not-God would be nonexistent.  

This brings to mind our two subjective centers -- the local material ego and the nonlocal self. Importantly, these are not a duality but a complementarity that  -- in my opinion -- can be traced all the way up and in to God. For example, "Father" and "Son" are two subjectivities or "personal centers" within a radical unity.

. . . But we're out of time, so we'll pick up this towline of thought in the next. .

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Random Thoughts on the Passing (Please!) Scene

St. Thomas thought about everything, including politics. When a degenerate people hand power over to demagogues, then "the elective power should, if it be possible, be taken from the multitude and restored to those who are good."

This seems too sensible to be remotely possible. Still, why should a bad and degenerate people have the right to make Biden the most powerful vegetable on earth?

St. Augustine was also on the case over 1500 years ago: "If a people gradually becomes depraved, if it sells its votes, if it hands over the government to wicked and criminal men, then that power of conferring honors is rightly taken from such a people and restored to those who are good."

Now, in our world we have one party that shamelessly purchases votes with cash and other valuable prizes stolen from the productive half of the population; this would of course be the Democrats. 

At the other extreme, we have a party that pretends not to do the same thing, i.e., Republicans. This is why the self-dealing degenerates of both parties so hated (and hate) Trump, and by extension, us. They are united in their contempt for the Good. 

The Founders of course knew that democracy eventually degenerates into mob rule, and thus tried to design a government around this melancholy fact. Everything the left does is designed to transform this M.F. into a principle -- a principle designed to counter and undo the work of the Founders.

But it's not really a principle -- unless an utter lack of principle can be elevated to one. This is why it is so futile to point out the daily hypocrisies of the left -- e.g., yesterday only the tinfoil hat crowd believed COVID was invented by the Chinese, today everyone knows it was. That's not hypocrisy, just the usual absence of principle. 

Note that the lack of principle is the left's version of "freedom." Any controlling principle would place constraints on the exercise of power, and in the struggle between principle and power, it's no contest. Expediency wins every time. 

This is also why the self-styled progressive does indeed progress: in the direction of absurdity. We are beyond the age of mere stupidity and well into the Age of Absurdity. 

This is what makes it all so unsettling. We'd like to think that what cannot continue won't continue, but this is probably what Augustine thought on the occasion of that previous barbarian invasion. They're just a disorganized bunch of illiterate malcontents. Besides, Twitter hasn't even been invented. What harm can they do to Civilization?

The current barbarian invasion has already breached the walls of nearly every institution of western civilization, e.g., the family, education at every level, journalism, science, art, entertainment. Even supposing we yanked on the brake right now, sheer momentum would carry the graveyard train forward another 50 years.

Which, in the Chinese perspective on history, is known as "six months."

You know how the left says "the personal is political?" Well, yes. If you can only manage to destroy the person, then there will be no limit to your political power. Regarding politics, Aristotle

starts from the study of the family, the first human community. The father, who rules the family, must deal, in one fashion with his wife, in another with his children, in still another with his slaves ["slave" is not the preferred nomenclature: helot-American laborer of color, please].

Hence, the family has been under constant assault by the left since forever, with predicable results: less stable families, more power for the left. It's why they want women to deny their natural inclinations and toil outside the home, why they want to subsidize bureaucratcare for children, why they disparage masculinity, why they redefine marriage, etc. You can't say the effort hasn't paid off. 

This is producing hordes of people who are simply unfit for the rigors of freedom -- even of free speech! Paraphrasing Thomas, Fr. Reginald writes that

the man who cannot provide for himself should work for, and be directed by, one wiser than himself.

Clearly not everyone is cut out for freedom. Indeed, there are whole continents and cultures that can't manage it. Problem is, the left once again elevates this to a kind of principle -- as if none of us can get by without the aggressive intervention of Big Sister because some can't. 

This reminds me of an observation by Schuon to the effect that we must recognize that there are indeed a great many adults that can't get by without adult supervision. It's a caste thing. 

There exist people --  e.g., the criminal, the revolutionary, the tenured -- for whom mere obedience to human norms would constitute their great virtue. All are badly in need of a proper Father. All evoke the reurn of the primordial Father, except in the form of the tyrant. Or perhaps a harmless looking vegetable as the face of tyranny. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Codgertations

In the past, posts have generally appeared between around 8:00 and 10:00 AM. Since there's no longer any morning rush, expect them to appear closer to midday. 

This isn't a post, just some loose ends before moving on to another subject.

In everything there is a shadow of nothing, but also an echo of eternity. A tension known only to man, and which defines man. 

The distance between man and God isn't as great as the distance between God and man. Thank God!

The present moment is the only place where one may fall upward or struggle downward. No one is obligated to cooperate with grace, but why use wings for digging?

What is implied by the Son and not Father incarnating? Probably the same as the Son being engendered: the Incarnation must be a fractal of the Trinity. Like everything else.

If ultimate reality is an irreducible Substance-in-Relation, then Father-Son is the one substance in eternal relation. Thus, in the giving of his Substance Christ gives the Relation.

If God is the Supreme Cause, then isn't he also the Supreme Effect? Perhaps the Farther is the First Cause, the Son the First Effect. Only from eternity.  

Unity and multiplicity, the anabolism of catabolism of being, constituting the metabolism of spirit.

Supreme Being implies Supreme Becoming. Absolute and Infinite, Creator and Creativity, One and Many.

Who came first, the Person or the Persons? Neither. Person presupposes the principle of Relation. Except the Relation is also a person. 

Monday, May 24, 2021

Down the Rabbit Hole of Experience

We're just flipping through Keys to the Beyond, looking for one that might unlock the doors. Of perception. And of realization, i.e., intellect and heart, respectively. Knowledge is one thing, its realization another -- at least for this kind of knowledge, which is always experiential. 

Which is interesting, for what is "experience" anyway? In a moment I'll look it up, but obviously any conceivable definition presumes someone there to experience it -- in both the writer and reader. Like "being," it's too general to be defined with precision, as it encompasses everything. 

We've been down this rabbit hole before, but who is "I" but the experience of pure subjectivity? And what is "AM" but its specification? Thus, I AM WHO I AM is more than a mythful. I AM applies to us, but goes double for God.

Ex•pe•ri•ence: direct observation of or participation in events: an encountering, undergoing, or living through things in general as they take place in the course of time.

Observation, participation, encountering, undergoing, living, time. Now, to define, according to the same dictionary, is to determine, limit, conclude, bring to an end, etc. The problem is, experience is literally boundless and unlimited, so it can't actually be defined. It is what it is, but more importantly, it is who I am, and more.

So let's not pretend we know what experience is, much less the experience of experience. That latter is purely immaterial, but this doesn't convey much, since 1) we don't know what matter is, and 2) "immaterial" is just the negation of the matter of which we already stipulated we are ignorant. Does this mean that the immaterial world is just ignorance²?

That can't be right, since the immaterial world is precisely where everything happens -- knowledge, experience, being, etc. 

I'm always trying to think of the title of the unwritten book. If I could only come up with the perfect title, the book would write itself. One rejected title was The Metaphysics of Jesus. The idea was to go through his words line by line in order to explicate the deepest structure of reality. 

First of all, if Jesus is the Truth, then not only should everything he say be true in the colloquial sense, but also relate the truth about the nature of things, about ultimate reality. 

Example. His first recorded words in the Gospel of Mark are The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. There are many ways to interpret these words -- for example, what they mean in the context of Judaism, but what is the deeper principle by virtue of which they are true? Or, what is the ultimate principle they explicate? 

"Time is fulfilled," for example, clearly implies that temporality must be something more than mere quantitative duration or meaningless change. Rather, to say that time can be "fulfilled" means at the very least that time had theretofore been unfulfilled, but what can this mean?  

To the dictionary! Fulfill: to make full; to supply the missing parts of: make whole; integrate: to carry out: accomplish, execute; to finish out, bring to an end; etc. 

Once again our definition doesn't de-limit or reduce, but rather, is incredibly expansive. But if Jesus is correct, it certainly means that "prior" to his presence, time is an impoverished thing: it is wounded and scattered instead of complete or integrated, nor has it accomplished its purpose and achieved its end.

That's a lot to ponder. 

Anyway, back to the Keys. Laude quotes Schuon in a footnote, who says

The desire to enclose universal Reality in an exclusive and exhaustive "explanation" brings with it a permanent disequilibrium due to the interferences of Maya; moreover, it is just this disequilibrium and this anxiety that are the life of modern philosophy.

Well, first of all, this desire to enclose reality within our own categories has been declared against the Law by Deputy Gödel. But whence the disequilibrium? This occurs because any manmode explanation not only excludes a great deal, but necessarily excludes a great deal more than it can ever include. And what we exclude always comes back to bite us in the aseity.

For example, how much bigger is infinitude than finitude? Now you know why the tenured not only explain such an infinitesimally small portion of reality, but unexplain so much more in the process. 

Laude talks about the need for a coherent metalanguage with which to map supra-reality. In the case of Jesus mentioned above, we see that he generally uses ordinary language to advert to the extra-ordinary. What would the same point look like in strict meta-language?

Let's face it, infinitude is a big place. How do we tame it, or cut it down to size? Think about linear thought and language. It can never do the job. Okay, how about circular? Now we're getting somewhere, but it all depends on the size of your circle. Laude alludes to the "spherical" quality of Schuon's writing. This is the way to go.

To be continued...

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Outer and Inner Limits

This post goes over a lot of well-trod ground. I suppose it might be helpful to newbies, if such readers exist. It lays a foundation, but that's all. The next post will take a flying leap from the foundation to the ground.

 "Metaphysics," writes Laude, "pertains to the super-ontological realm, or to Beyond-Being, the Essence, and can be best characterized, therefore, by paradoxical expressions: it is the science of the limitless and the knowledge of the unknowable."

For some readers this will make perfect nonsense, while for others it will be the other way around. 

One thing we need to get out of the way at the outset: no, we're not just trying to be abstruse or mystagogic, much less clever or cute. We hate cute as much as the next guy.

Consider mundane science: of necessity it operates within limits. The moment it steps outside its own proper limits it becomes either oogily-boogily scientism or woohoo deepakery, thus proving that extremists meet.

Metaphysics is to science as, say, paragraph is to story -- except to say that this story must ultimately be circular, more on which as we proceed. For now let's just nod in silent agreement with the Aphorist, who points out that

Without philosophy, the sciences do not know what they know.
Moreover,

Properly speaking, the social sciences are not inexact sciences, but sciences of the inexact.

Thus, a science of the limitless is equally a science of the inexact, bearing in mind that the latter is not synonymous with incertitude. True, God is a mathematician, but not only a mathematician. As it pertains to metaphysics, Einstein was no Einstein.

I'm suddenly reminded of a book by Stanley Jaki called The Limits of a Limitless Science. Supposing the scientific method reveals (lower case) truth -- which it does -- then

since no tool used by man matches even remotely the effectiveness and range of the tool called science, one may rightly say that there is nothing so important as to ascertain the limits to which science can rightfully be put to use.

I've been thinking about this lately vis-a-vis the undeniable power of genetics to illuminate human intelligence, personality, and behavior. Nevertheless, while reductionism is a permanent temptation, it must always be rejected on pain of placing an arbitrary limit on the limitless. 

How could a limited method yield a limitless result? This is like the proverbial frog at the bottom of a well proclaiming with complete certitude that the sky is a little blue circle. 

Which it is, granted a limited perspective. And all perspectives are limited, save one: the perspective of metaphysics, which provides a meta-language to vault us into the meta-limits.  

One (1) is a quantity, and in fact, the basis of any and all quantities, being that the latter are multiples of one. But one is also -- and even prior to quantity -- a quality. This is because one plus one cannot actually equal two in the absence of a prior unicity in which the two can reveal their oneness.  Placing one rock atop another doesn't actually make them one rock. 

"Science ceases to be competent"  

whenever a proposition is such as to have no quantitative bearing. The alternatives -- to be or not to be, to be free or not to be free, to act for a purpose or no purpose at all, to have inalienable rights or to not have them -- cannot be evaluated in inches or ounces, in volts or in amperes, in frequencies or in wavelengths (Jaki). 

A moment's reflection on this axiomatic truth reveals "that the limits of science are vast as well as very specific." Indeed, language itself -- which is obviously not a mere quantity -- "must point far beyond the limits of science" (ibid.). 

And in any event, "as long as Gödel’s incompleteness theorems are valid, the mathematical structure of [a final] theory cannot contain within itself its own proof of consistency" (ibid.). Which means that the most Ultimate Theory conceivable by man can only be penultimate. For obviously, 

Science, when it finishes explaining everything, but being unable to explain the consciousness that creates it, will not have explained anything (Dávila). 

Another way of framing our analysis is to affirm that subjectivity and objectivity are complementary, but that the former can never be reduced to the latter. Just what is the subject? An object? A quantity? An illusion? 

C'mon man! The Subject is either a primordial category or it isn't, and if not, then you are facing the wrong way. Stop pretending your limits are the limits. You're like a chicken that can't find its way out when placed in a corner.

Metaphysical Dunning-Kruger. You'd better believe it's real. And 

Those who reject all metaphysics secretly harbor the coarsest.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

To Reality, and Beyond!

I mentioned in a comment that I've been leisurely alternating between two books, one called Reality, the other called Keys to the Beyond. It's a little like going back and forth between alternate universes -- I was about to say "parallel" universes, but that can't be right, since there can only be one.  

Nor is it like choosing a neighborhood to live in -- for example, this one is more expensive but has better schools, while that one is more... vibrant but has more crime.

If one of these cosmic neighborhoods is Reality, the other is Beyond Reality, so they're not really parallel, but rather, perpendicular. Assuming there's something beyond reality.

But wait: how can there be something more real than reality? We'll get to that, but let's start with this: 

the deepest joy arises from the activity of man's highest power, namely, his mind, when that power is occupied in contemplating its highest object, which is God, the Supreme Truth, the Supreme Intelligible.

Are we not men? Check. Is not the mind our highest power? Check. Is not God the highest intelligible object? Check. Thomas:

man must immortalize himself, by striving with all his might to live according to what is most excellent in himself. This principle is higher than all the rest. It is the spirit which makes man essentially man.

Immortalizing ourselves by living in accord with what is most excellent in ourselves, whatever the cost... Isn't that what makes a man? Ummm, sure. That and a pair of testicles. 

You're joking. But perhaps man is only man when surpassing himself, which would imply that reality too is a descent from something more real. This probably wasn't clear, but soon it will be, perhaps even to me.

The point is that reality is always pregnant with possibilities, and the possibilities are infinite. This being the case, to say reality is to advert to a deeper or higher source, i.e., something paradoxically beyond what we call reality. 

Let's remind ourselves that the metacosmos is circular, or a kind of nonlocal spiraling movement that ceaselessly goes out of, and returns to, its source. At the summit of metaphysics is the convergence of essence and existence, AKA God:

This supreme truth is the terminus, the goal, of the ascending road [↑] which rises from the sense world to God, and the point of departure on the descending road [], which deduces the attributes of God and determines the relation between God and world.

In reality, it is , since God is the ultimate cause of both movements. The first movement is from effects to cause, while the second is from cause to effects or entailments. Or, we could say many-to-One and One-to-many, or just unity and diversity, bearing in mind that the former is inconceivable in a universe of pure multiplicity. While the two are complementary, Unity is necessarily prior.

Here's where things get a little ambiguous in this cosmic neighborhood. Fr. Reginald points out that

The first cause, being uncaused, must have in itself the reason for its existence. But the reason why it cannot cause itself is that it must be before it can cause. Hence, not having received existence, it must be existence (emphases mine). 

True enough. But what if it receives Being from Beyond-Being? "In God alone are essence and existence identified." In other words, God is the the being whose essence is to exist. But who's to say this is the end of the line? 

In the next post we'll tour the other cosmic neighborhood.  

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Everything New is Old Again

Yesterday an idea occurred to me that may provide an explanatory key to the surreal -- or subreal, rather -- times we're living in. I was about to say "living through," but this presupposes we'll actually get through them, and who knows? We may have reached the final naked, insurmountable contradiction of...

Marxists like to highlight the contradictions inherent to capitalism, but if I am correct, the trouble with Marxism is that it's not nearly radical enough. For what if I told you that... 

Before getting to my thoughts on the subject, this is from the CPUSA's *very own* website:

When we really dig down to the bottom of things, the contradictions of capitalism are holding us back. We live in the richest, most productive, most interconnected society that has ever existed on Earth, *and yet* some of us are overworked, others are underemployed, and millions live in poverty.

This glaring social contradiction, the class divide, comes about because capitalism is *designed* to allow a few individuals profit from the work of the vast majority. The *purpose* of capitalism is to make profits for the few individuals *lucky* enough to own a big piece of the pie. It’s very efficient at making rich people richer.

Let's analyze this passage, but first a word from our sponsor: yes,

THE COMMUNIST PARTY'S GOT SWAG! (https://www.cpusa.org/article/the-communist-partys-got-swag/)

For quite some time now, we have been receiving requests from comrades all over the country who are interested in purchasing CPUSA merchandise. You have been heard – we are excited to announce the launch of our first ever official web store! Three unique t-shirts are available for purchase. Bulk orders are eligible for special pricing. 

No piece the pie for you! 

Marxists and their progressive children continue to be convinced that they've "dug down to the bottom of things." Problem is, if you're a materialist you don't have to dig very far before you reach the bottom. And yet, leftists keeps digging long after they've hit bottom. 

Why? You'd think the left would put away their shovels once they've established that Bruce is Caitlyn, George Floyd is a hero, paleface Liz is an Indian, Michelle Obama is oppressed by something other than her low IQ, race riots are peaceful, a man's spouse is his husband, and Joe Biden is competent. 

Come to think of it, for a materialist the bottom is the top, and vice versa: one makes extremes meet by simply eliminating one of them. I get it: a simpleminded explanation appeals to the simpleminded. But why eradicate the fun side, AKA the soul? 

Regarding the Inchoate Idea that Occurred to Me Yesterday, let's reframe what our comrade says above about getting to the bottom of the trouble:

When we really dig down to the bottom of things, the contradictions of HUMAN NATURE are holding us back. We live in the FREEST society that has ever existed on Earth, *and yet* it results in INEQUALITY.

Now, anyone but the village progressive will quickly realize that what the left calls a "contradiction" is actually a logical entailment: that the more people are free to reveal their preferences, their abilities, their intelligence, etc., the more inequality will result. This is an insight worthy of Captain Obvious.

But let's "really dig down to the bottom." First of all, as it pertains to human beings, what is the bottom? Once we've ruled out all the red herrings such as "class," "privilege," "patriarchy," "profit motive," et al, we're left with human nature. D'oh!

Now, first of all, materialists deny that such a thing exists, which is in turn the principle upon which the left is founded; in short, leftist polices can only succeed if there is no such thing as human nature (or, they can succeed, but only on a species with a different nature).

We're seeing this principle play out in real time with the Great Mystery of how unemployment can be up *despite* the fact that people are being paid not to work. How can this be? Some might suggest that perhaps it has to do with human nature -- that people understand incentives and know what's in their best interests. But the left knows better. 

Here again, preference can only be revealed in the context of freedom. If people are free to get paid for not working, guess what will happen?

The same thing occurs when men and women are free to choose their vocational paths: men are far more likely to choose careers involving abstractions or objects, while women are more apt to pursue careers involving interpersonal relations. Freedom reveals human nature. Equality would require forcing women into fields for which they have no intrinsic interest, i.e, are against their nature.

We're still in Captain Obvious territory and still haven't gotten to the main point, which is this: yes, these are crazy times we're living in. But what if the regime of Wokeness isn't some sort of mysterious aberration? What if it's just raw human nature, what man is if he is allowed to be, i.e., if there are no constraints on its expression?

Come to think of it, many Aphorisms go precisely to this subject. I might add that, when we really dig down to the bottom of things, we see that there is 1) human nature, and 2) a cure for human nature, about which we'll have more to say later. Suffice it to say, human nature is a genuine diagnosis, so don't get confused by this or that symptom, for example, envy, or hatred of reality, or sexual conflict.

And certainly don't be surprised at mob behavior, scapegoating, projection, and appeasement of imaginary gods via human sacrifice. It's what humans do and have always done.  Nor do humans have the power to cure human nature. That would require an intervention from on high, from something transcending humanness.

We'll conclude with a dozen aphorisms, each of which touches on a different aspect of the deep down problem of human nature:

--To be a conservative is to understand that man is a problem without a human solution.


--Human nature always takes the progressive by surprise.


--Liberals can be divided into those who believe that wickedness is curable and those who deny that it exists.


--Man is not educated through knowledge of things but through knowledge of man.


--Man matures when he stops believing that politics solves his problems.


--Those who remove man’s chains free only an animal. 


--Authentic humanism is built upon the discernment of human insufficiency.


--Today the individual rebels against inalterable human nature in order to refrain from amending his own correctable nature.


--The conservative is a simple pathologist. He defines sickness and health. But God is the only therapist.


--What is called the modern mentality is the process of exonerating the deadly sins.


--Freedom is the right to be different; equality is a ban on being different.


--An irreligious society cannot endure the truth of the human condition. It prefers a lie, no matter how imbecilic it may be. --Dávila x 12