Friday, March 26, 2021

Try Not to Gasp at Gagdad's Latest Post!

Just the usual Friday flight into a full-blown freeforall of freakflaggery.

We left off in the mydst of an elucidation of the One Weird Trick for clearing up metaphysical confusion and incoherence via seeing God stereoscopically (or better, tri-scopically).

Rather than building a careful bridge to our conclusion, let's start at the far end and then ski back down, i.e., descend from the celestial mountaintop to the terrestrial plains. After all, the book from which we are quoting is called From the Divine to the Human, and we mean it:
both conceptions -- the unitary and the trinitary -- meet and are resolved in their archetype, which is none other than the Absolute at once immutable and radiating; being what It is, the Absolute cannot not be immutable, and It cannot not radiate. Immutability, or fidelity to itself; and Radiation, or gift of Itself; therein lies the essence of all that is (Schuon).

Problem is, immutable and radiating are a bit like particle and wave herebelow. But in nether case is there contradiction, rather, complementarity, i.e., two views of a single reality.

Hmm. There are as many paths back down as there are up, and we're trying to choose just one. 

Come to think of it, if you really want to feel overwhelmed, there are as many paths as there are individuals. And ultimately, each person is essentially a path back to God. Or from God. Your choice.

The image comes to mind of a body stretched over an abyss so others can scurry over. But we'll bridge that cross when we get to it.

As Fr. Garrigou explains, even a single trail presents the vertical wayfarer with "great variety": "one part crosses the plain, another climbs more or less steep slopes; part of the road can be covered in daylight, part at night, and that in fair or stormy whether," etc. 

At the moment, for example, there's a bit of fog in our channel, but we're forging ahead anyway. Damn the torpidity!

In any event, there is no stasis in this cosmos, not even if we're mouldering in the doldrums: for as Garrigou says in The Three Ages of the Interior Life -- and he's boiling down the collective testimony of centuries of pneumanautical adventurers --  "Not to advance is to retrogress."  

That's pretty much our daily directive, isn't it?: oneward, inword, upward! What's the alternative?   

Nor is our progress -- or our retrogression, for that matter -- at a uniform rate of speed. Rather, -- at both ends, evidently -- our velocity increases as we approach the singularity (or diversity, depending): 

the soul ought to advance more rapidly toward God as it approaches Him more closely and is more drawn by Him, just as the stone falls more rapidly as it draws near the earth which attracts it.

Vertical gravity. Which, come to think of it, isn't so much an attraction as it is the tendency of space to curve around large objects. 

Now, what is the largest object? Yes, it is what men call God, but recall the image of the point surrounded by concentric circles: supposing you're a vertically untutored physicist orbiting around the center. Obviously, the circle is larger than the point, which is inconceivably -- literally -- small. Physics wins! 

But the physicist loses, in the time-honored manner of "gaining the whole material world while losing your immaterial soul." Yes, it's one of those pyrrhic victories in which the operation is a total success. Only the patient died.

So let's make a memo to ourselves: don't do that. It's not just soph-destructive, it's plain stupid, the height of absurcularity.  

Back to our mountaintop. Before descending, let's have a look around. Interesting. Here is a house with three doors. Well then, let's invite ourselves in!

Locked.

That's okay. The doors are labeled; or rather, each has a main heading in ALL CAPS, with various subheadings below. One door says ABSOLUTE. A second says INFINITE. The third says PERFECTION.

From outside, these appear as three different aspects or dimensions or modes. But behind the doors these three are somehow one. It's a bit like the Deep State: we know it's there because its effects are obvious, but there's nothing we can do about it.

Another image comes to mind of a triangular mountain. At its peak is the peak of another mountain, this one upside down. The three doors are at the point of contact between the peaks, but upper mountain is off limits, at least in this life. Among other things, it is infinite, while we aren't.

Note, however, that "infinite" has no positive content. Rather, it's just the negation of finitude. We know all about finitude, since we're plunged into it. What is its negation? Just nothing? No, it's something alright, both in form and content, respectively, for it is the radiation of the sovereign good, precisely.

Put it this way: as Plato well understood, it is in the nature of the Good to communicate, i.e., to radiate, itself. What good would the Good be if it kept all the goodness to itself? Not very!

Which leads to the subheadings on the doors, alluded to above. Or rather, it is like one of those blinky toys: tilt it one way and it says ABSOLUTE. Tilt it another way and it says FATHER. For which reason we just say ABBASOLUTE.

Now, the FATHER is necessary being, except in the ghetto, but that will take us far afield. And there is no FATHER in the absence of the SON, so he too partakes of necessary being in a "secondary" (so to speak) way. And of necessity they have a "relationship," this being what is called HOLY SPIRIT.

Here again, tilt the blinky and we see ABSOLUTE, GOOD (or PERFECT), and RADIATION. We also see a number of other primordial trinities, so I think we're on to something. To be continued.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Eliminate Metaphysical Incoherence with this One Weird Trick!

There's a lot about conventional ("exoteric") religiosity that doesn't make conventional sense, which in turn makes conventional people with conventional IQs dismiss it. Is there a remedy for this? Or must we simply concede that "it's a mystery" and believe it anyway?

Yes and no. For regardless of how and what you think about the world or about its creator, there are limits to both the comprehensible and the expressible. Looked at one way, the gap between What Is and What We Can Know About It is infinite. But looked at another way, we can get pretty damn close to What Is, because every subject is plugged into the one Subject. 

Recall the image of the central point surrounded by concentric circles of different sizes, vs. the same point radiating outward in all directions. Now, science -- any science, or even science as such -- occupies one of those concentric circles, nor can it ever exit its own circle, at least under its own power. 

Physics can say E = MC²But it can never account for the consciousness that understands and communicates this truth. Doing so is -- literally -- above the paygrade of physics -- or located along a more interior circle, closer to the central point. And I don't pay my local physicist to give his opinions about the nature of that central point of nonlocal consciousness. 

The central point is not only "meta" physics it is transphysics; it is the Alpha and Omega of the natural world, its very ground and telos; it is the principle by virtue of which physics is even possible, let alone true.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I'd hit a wall with Fr. Garrigou's strict Thomism. Thinking about the reasons why, it is because he seems too devoted to a particular circle -- or orbit around O -- than to metaphysical consistency, in part -- I think -- because he wants to force universal metaphysics to conform to revelation. But this will always generate mal-paradox, incoherency, and even absurdity.

As Schuon puts it -- and this is not a critique per se, just a recognition of its limits --

dogmatist thought is so to speak static and exclusive, that is, unaware of the play of Maya; in other words, it admits of no movement, no diversity of points of view and of aspects, no degrees of Reality. It offers keys, but also veils; appeasing and protective veils assuredly, but veils which it itself will not lift.

To be sure, the veils can be lifted, just not from the "inside" (i.e., from within dogma, just as physics cannot lift the veil of consciousness). This goes to the universal distinction between dogmatic and mystical theology, which are, as it were, as circle is to radii (recalling the two images mentioned above).

Looked at this way, the most adequate dogmatic theology is nevertheless going to be a bit like physics (or any other science), which is always the map and not the territory. The most perfect scientific or mathematical map has no substantial content because it is a map or symbol of the substance. Just as you can't eat the menu, you can't visit God in the map.

Obviously, science cannot generate substance. Only God can do that. Nor can theology generate the substance of being. Only Beyond-Being can do that. 

Going back to Garrigou, I don't want to catalogue all the little things that irritated me, but it goes to the common criticism of scholasticism, that it is too... scholastic.  It ends up being rather circular, like trying to deduce how many angels can dance on the head of a pin instead of just looking out the window and counting them. 

Let's move on to our Weird Trick for resolving all of this. And when I say "our," I mean Schuon's, although I've thought this way for so long that it feels like mine:

To speak of the Absolute, is to speak of the Infinite; Infinitude is an intrinsic aspect of the Absolute. It is from the "dimension" of Infinitude that the world springs forth; the world exists because the Absolute, being such, implies Infinitude.

Now, first of all, think of this as the "bones" over which, say, Genesis 1, clothes with imaginative and mythopoetic flesh. Not only are we here at the limits of the expressible, technically we are beyond them. The two approaches are, in my opinion, complementary: we need both, in the same sense that the use of our left and right cerebral hemispheres opens up a deeper, stereoscopic view denied to one or the other.

Strictly speaking, in the beginning is actually NOTHING, and the good Padre acknowledgess this in another book, volume two of The Three Ages of the Interior Life:

when the mystics speak of God, they use many negative terms, such as "incomprehensible," "ineffable," "incommunicable." They say that negative contemplation, which expresses itself in this manner, is superior to affirmative communication.

O? Please continue.

Some terms are "essentially mystical," such that "if one took them in their scholastic meaning, they would no longer be true." In other words, -- or symbols -- radial lines can say things that will sound wrong or even heretical to the this or that dogmatic circle.

All spiritual writers speak, for example, of the nothingness of the creature, and say: the creature is nothing. A theologian, to render this proposition acceptable to his point of view, would add this precision: the creature by itself is nothing (emphasis mine).

The same spiritual writers will also say that God is nothing. But add these two nothings together and now you've got something! 

Garrigou cites a Blessed Angela of Foligno, who wrote of seeing nothing and I see all; certitude is obtained in the darkness; or St. John of the Cross, who, upon achieving vertical liftoff, writes Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing: and since he wishes for "nothing through self-love, all is given to me, without going in search of it."

We're not done, we're just out of time. Let's just say that the essence of the Weird Trick is to see God stereoscopically via the circle of dogma and the radii of mystical union. 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Leftist Cycle of Intellectual Poverty

A smarter feller than myself once said that “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket" (Hoffer).

However, our president is an exception to the rule, being that the Biden crime family began as a political racket, only to degenerate into the great cause of wokeism, identity politics, and "equity."

In fact, the tension in the left is between the racketeers and fanatics. Old school grifters like the Clintons never believed the left's BS, whereas the new generation of howling fanatics really does. 

These latter have spent their whole lives macerated in leftism, from the kindergarten of preschool to the kindergarten of college, and really believe their own nonsense. Truly, it is the organizing principle of their lives, and functions exactly like a religion. An especially exhausting religion.

Which is why no rational conversation is possible with these perverts. Disagreement with them isn't, like, just your opinion, man, but heresy, blasphemy, sacrilegious. It is over the line. Mark it zero. You're cancelled!

One of the ontological differences between left and right is that the former project agency and causation into the environment, while the latter experience the locus of control on the inside. 

You could say that this goes to the metaphysics of victimhood, in that the victim is by definition the passive subject of someone else's actions (or of some magical system such as  "structural racism," a leftist godwhistle that only the devout can hear).

Now, auto-victimization is obviously tempting, much more so if one is a loser. If you are a loser, then you have -- I suppose -- three main possible explanations, 1) you're just a loser, so deal with it, 2) it's someone else's fault that you're such a loser, or 3) bad luck. It takes a strong man to acknowledge options (1) and (3). But you are a loser, so naturally you'll gravitate to door #2. It's why the left was invented.

In short, "the frustrated favor radical change. The tendency to look for all causes outside ourselves persists even when it is clear that our state of being is the product of personal qualities such as ability, character, appearance, and so on" (Hoffer). 

Indeed, Hoffer quotes an insultaining remark by Thoreau to the effect that "If anything ail a man," then "he forthwith sets about reforming -- the world."

You could say that this is Marx's eternal formula: I am a loser, therefore overturn the order of the whole durned thing.  

"It us understandable," writes Hoffer, "that those who fail should incline to blame the world for their failures." But the tech overlords and woke capitalists who sponsor the Democrat party aren't exactly losers (at least in the financial sense). Why do they support and propagate this aberrant nonsense?

I can think of two main reasons, 1) power, and 2) envy insurance. The first is self-evident, while the second was discussed in the previous post, was it not? A wealthy celebrity or journalist is just a loser who got lucky, and on some level they know it. 

It's uncomfortable to be the subject of envy, so it is deflected by embracing leftism and projecting greed into us. This act of magical misdirection redirects the envy of the mob toward greedy and hateful deplorables, insurrectionists, white people, etc.  This ends in the ridiculous spectacle of fabulously lucky losers such as Michelle Obama or Colin Kaepernick blaming us for their bitter lives.

I guess it's flattering to be seen as having so much power over these people. And yet, the left has the power to cancel anyone at any time. 

About the religious structure of the left, Hoffer notes that "Every mass movement is in a sense a migration -- a movement toward a promised land." 

Boy and how! For life itself is a vertical adventure toward a promised land, except the left horizontalizes this into literal state of affairs that can be realized in this life. Apocalypse now.

Not only is this impossible, but it aggravates the very conditions that prompt the flight to utopia. Every leftist "solution" leaves a train of problems that provide the pretext for new solutions. Call it the cycle of intellectual poverty.

Why does the left hate freedom? It goes back to loserhood:

Freedom aggravates at least as much as it alleviates frustration. Freedom of choice places the whole blame of failure on the shoulders of the individual.

It "is at the root of their discontent," for "unless a man has the talents to make something of himself," the freedom to do so is just the certainty of failure. Thus, just as the left practices a "repressive tolerance" in which mere tolerance isn't tolerated, so too does it help its dependents be free of freedom. 

Now, what are we supposed to do with the left side of the bell curve? Obviously, no amount of legislation or social planning can eliminate the lower half of any quality, whether it is intelligence, creativity, income, looks, talent, whatever. And very few people are in the upper or lower half of every quality. Most everyone is good or bad at this or that.

This gets into a large subject, but a good start would be minding your own isness and not comparing yourself to other people, because if you do, you'll always feel like the good Lord gypped you. Aw, fuck it, man. Lets go bowling.