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!