Saturday, September 18, 2021

Peering Through the Logoscope

Sometimes I try to eliminate Bob and write beyond myself. This is one of those days, so I take no responsibility. 

As there are degrees of abstraction -- from natural science to mathematics to metaphysics -- there are... how to put it... shockingly diverse and different modalities of language, or of logospheric activity. 

For example, the same logos that allows us to understand the world allows us to understand ourselves, and these two -- object and subject -- could scarcely be more different. Introspection at one end, extrospection at the other, united by a Most Mysterious Third, and how did he get here?

Moreover, this logos also allows us to navigate the transnatural world, which is just plain bizarre, unless we acknowledge that the cosmos is indeed a logosphere.  

I often tell my son that Christianity is less something to look at than through -- as with a telescope, you can stare at it all day -- or analyze its parts down to the submolecular level -- but the point is to look through it to see what we can see.  

Sure enough, a whole hierarchy of organization comes into view, from the terrestrial to the celestial and beyond. Same thing when you look through a telescope.

The point of the logoscope is to look through it. Obviously it reveals a nonlocal order, but guess what? It also reveals an overwhelming amount of disorder, and this disorder can only be seen from the perspective of the Order. Absent the latter, the disorder can even be mistaken for Order.

And now you understand the left, which combines the worst of both worlds: for on the one hand it generates disorder on every level -- personal, familial, psychosexual, economic, educational, political, etc. -- from which it promises to rescue us through its imposition of a top-down order. Just grant them more power and they'll give you order, good and hard.

All of the left's tyrannical mechanisms, e.g., "political correctness," "cancellation," selective outrage, educational indoctrination, media manipulation, etc., serve the broader purpose of bullying free thinkers -- AKA thinkers -- into submission.  (Thinking minus Freedom = The Machine.)

Now, what is thinking itself but quintessentially logospheric activity on a personal basis? If it's not, then it's nothing. We can know this with absolute certitude, again, by looking though the logoscope and seeing the psychic disorder. Follow any of this disorder to its principle or its end, and it not only makes no sense, but manufactures nonsense. Or maybe you've never watched CNN.

The other day we mentioned that analysis and synthesis are like catabolism and anabolism, and constitute the metabolism of being. This spiritual activity is sponsored, so to speak, by the logos that not only infuses being, but is, in a manner of speaking, Being itself.  

How so?  Because we all bear the stamp of a spiraling trinitarian dance involving Beyond Being <-> Being <-> Knowing.  These three can be conceptualized in a number of ways, for example,  Father <-> Son <-> Holy Spirit, Subject <-> Object <-> Truth, Absolute <-> Infinite <-> Perfection, Unity <-> Multiplicity <-> Love, Absolute <-> Relative <-> Personal, etc.

Returning to the subject of logos, we can also say something like... God <-> Word <-> Womb <->. For God can speak his Word all day long -- or even all history long -- but it requires fertile ground in order to become in time and return to the One who spoke it. 

I'm looking at this new translation of John, which reads (emphases mine)

But for those who did receive him? He gave them, those who believe in his name, the power of becoming children of God -- who are begotten not from blood, nor yet from the will of flesh, nor even from the will of a husband, but from God.

Returning to our analogy: peer through the logoscope, see the logosphere. Or, don't, and see nothing -- nothing but disorder masquerading as order, or infrahuman pretending to be man.

Got a late start, and there are errands to run.


Thursday, September 16, 2021

Spiritual Talent and Vertical Shrinkage

I'm feeling a bit lazy this morning. In other words, same as always. 

Still, I think I'll let Ratzinger do most of the heavy lifting today, beginning with the following somewhat lengthy passage that addresses the question of whether an atheist is just someone who likes to boast about an absence of vertical talent, i.e., who doesn't know the difference between a gift and a deficiency:

The phenomenology of religion demonstrates -- and we can test this for ourselves -- that there are, or at least appear to be, in religion, as in all other realms of the human spirit, various degrees of endowment.

Although he qualifies the statement with appear to be, this is because one of the ubiquitous characteristics of the spiritually endowed is humility: know them by their fruits, the most pleasant to the eyes but toxic to the soul being pride.

You're not going to hear the exPope brag about a preternatural ability to discern the Real from the illusory or Permanent from impermanent, even though this is precisely one of the supernatural abilities of the gifted (with specific reference to jnanic and not bhaktic temperaments, the latter of whose gift will have a different emphasis, i.e., love, faith, devotion, etc. Not every spiritual athlete plays the same sport, nor in the same way).

One reason those responding to a verticalling won't brag on themselves is because they know better than anyone that the ability isn't their own, but rather, comes from anOther -- or cooperation with this Other, to be exact. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Ratzinger continues:

Just as in the field of music we find the creative, the receptive, and finally those who are completely unmusical, so it seems to be in religion.... 

Here, too, one meets people who are religiously "talented" and others who are "untalented"; here, too, those capable of direct religious experience and thus of something like religious creativity through a living awareness of the religious world are few and far between.

This raises several important points, first that religious experience -- like any other experience -- is of a world, and that this world is -- self-evidently -- prior to its experience. If experience is prior, then we are vaulted into a simulated world even more absurd than that of the Kantian rationalist -- or of any other shrunken metaphysic that puts the subject prior to the object.

Over against these few, for whom the divine thus becomes undisguised certainty, stand the many whose religious gift is limited to receptivity [o], who are denied the direct experience of the holy yet are not so deaf to it as to be unable to appreciate an encounter with it through the medium of the man granted such an experience.

In postmodern parlance we shouldn't call the atheist's ethos "spiritually retarded," rather, the preferred nomenclature is vertically challenged or spiritual hesitancy; old-fashioned words such as "imbecile" and "moron" are now considered offensive. 

At any rate, should we be triggered by the fact that some people are more spiritually capable than others? 

No, because first of all, where would we be without them? Analogously, where would music be if everyone were as talented as Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift? Music would thereby lose its reason for being, which is to render audible the light of the transcendent object.

Second, -- sticking with the music analogy -- I can't play a note of jazz, but I wouldn't want to live without it. I suppose I might enjoy it even more if I could play it, but not necessarily. 

For me it's more than enough to simply be receptive to it -- in other words, to be aesthetically open to the more musically gifted. 

I was going to say it's a full time job, which it is, so long as we specify that this means vertical openness to everything, and on every plane: truth, love, beauty, et al. I will never be retired from that, since it is more than enough to fill one's day and especially one's life. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The Self-Destructive Matrix

Here is a paradox to ponder (not an orthoparadoxical complementarity that is in the nature of things, but a genuine absurdity): the same elites who are living in their ideological simulation of reality -- AKA the Matrix -- are responsible for destroying this Matrix. 

Take California, where the elites who are destroying the state boast the support of two thirds of the voters. Everyone can see the deterioration, whether we're talking about crime, homelessness, poverty, schools, the border, unemployment, cost of living, virtually every metric. Our elites promise more of the same, and win every time.

Analogously, it's like an autoimmune disorder, with our elites pretending to defend the body while actively working for its destruction. 

The above thoughts occurred to me while reading today's offering by Z Man (https://thezman.com/wordpress/?p=25054):

Long before the Covid panic, it was obvious to many on the dissident right that the main problem in the West was a core of true believers. These are fanatics who are immune to facts and reason, driven by a desire to pull the roof down on society. On every issue, they seem to come down on the side of the society wrecking option (emphases mine).

Something so systematically irrational must be operating by its own implicit logic. In other words, it isn't mere chaos we're seeing, but rather, quite ordered and even predictable. 

Analogously, a patient comes into therapy because his life is a wreck; it makes no sense, and yet he keeps making self-defeating choices that result in frustration, pain, and disappointment. 

The task of the therapist is -- or used to be, anyway -- to not only help him make better choices, but to first identify the deeper unconscious structure that is pulling the strings and causing the problems. 

Consequences that may appear unintended on the surface are actually intended by an unacknowledged center of agency. It's called self-defeating behavior, or repetition compulsion, or acting out, and is essentially a closed circle, so there's no Learning From Experience.

This deeper structure is like a personal matrix; it's a reality tunnel that both organizes the world and repels threats to it. We all know about the problem of "confirmation bias." In individuals it works on a retail basis, whereas a collective ideological Matrix does so on a wholesale basis, cutting off huge swaths of reality. But just because reality is denied, it hardly disappears. See Afghanistan for details; or monetary inflation; or the consequences of the anti-police movement.

This wholesale Matrix reminds me of something Mr. Moldbug says in his interview with Tucker: how is it that all of our elites just happen to believe the same crazy things? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsGbRNmu4NQ&t=4485s)

Why, for example, do both Yale and Harvard -- not to mention almost every other elite university -- embrace the same totalitarian wokeness, e.g., "diversity," affirmative racism, microaggressions, transgenderism, feminism, etc.? Based on pure chance, you'd think that one of them would stumble into liberalism, or traditionalism, or libertarianism, or realism, but no: strict uniformity -- simultaneously crazy and rigid.  

I didn't actually get past the first paragraph of Z Man's essay. In the second paragraph he points out how, since the onset of Covid, 

the true believers have shifted positions, often contradicting yesterday’s deeply held position, without explanation. The cult leaders seem to have moved along an authoritarian scale, which at least provides some rationale for their actions. The rank and file believers, however, have flitted from one position to another like a murmuration of starlings.

So the matrix is both flexible and rigid: it doesn't make smooth, bottom-up transformations based upon new evidence, but operates in a discontinuous top-down manner -- as in how the communist party went from anti-Hitler to pro-Hitler overnight. How did they manage the cognitive dissonance?

It's easy once one accepts the logic of the left, which is only Aristotelian if it works toward the desired end. If it doesn't, then so much for Aristotle:

Within hours of Biden being installed, they shifted to swearing that these vaccines were a perfect defense, an impenetrable defense, against Covid. If the bulk of the people were vaccinated by spring, the pandemic would be over as we would quickly hit herd immunity or pretty close to it. Everyone could go back to normal. The skeptics with whom they agreed just minutes ago were now QAnon conspiracy nuts. All good people would be vaccinated and only the crazies would refuse.

Am I exceeding the limits of fair use? Nah, there's no rules in blogging! Z Man makes the same point I'm making, only in other words:

There you see the mind of the true believer at work. Theirs is not a world of facts, reason, and a vast area of uncertainty, as it is with normal people. Instead, their world is those inside the walls and those outside the walls. The walls are an abstraction created by the good people who lead the faithful.... those outside the walls are the bad guys, the undifferentiated other that is always at war with the faithful.

Both the woke and the normal must "deal with reality," except the former "need a constant stream of reinforcement" to keep it at bay. Thankfully for them, social media provides an instantaneous network to shore up any holes in the Matrix. In the Olden Times it was much more of a top-down structure imposed by Big Media, but now every leftist is free to participate in his own subjection. Progress!

It is not an accident that the hardest thumping crazies on the Left are also intensively on-line, obsessed with things like Twitter. Social media is their tether to the collective.... Like a fish in a school, the believer gives herself over to the collective whole.

This essay (https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2021/09/13/some-hard-truths-about-secular-colleges/?utm_source=The+Catholic+Thing+Daily&utm_campaign=4027752b0b-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_12_07_01_02_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_769a14e16a-4027752b0b-244304881) mentions an editor who no longer recruits Ivy League graduates, being that they are likely “'well-practiced in remaining silent when it costs something to speak up' against prevailing campus ideologies." These children are both bullies and bullied, just as there is no tyrant like a professional Victim.

Who wants to hire dysfunctional children "who are coddled and encouraged to nurture grievances, while normal kids are attacked and educationally abused”? 

Back when I was a neo-Freudian I believed that anxiety essentially resulted from unconscious conflict between desire and reality. Now I believe it results from a disconnect between who we are and who we ought be. In other words, now I have a teleological explanation, whereas before it was a backward-looking explanation -- as if an unconflicted animal is the ideal!  

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Space, Time, Matter, Desire, and Other Unavoidable Nuisances

 I like this passage: according to Schuon, exoterism 

is comparable to a skylight, which gives the sky a certain form, round or square perhaps; through this the view of the sky is fragmentary, though it certainly does not prevent the sky from filling the room with light and life. 

A reminder, I suppose, that humanly speaking there is no such thing as a "view from nowhere": a view is a perspective, and a perspective partakes of subjectivity. 

One of the metaphysical blunders of scientism -- or of any ism, for that matter -- is the supposition that it is a uniquely privileged view from nowhere, when its view is very much from somewhere and someone. Every Ism pretends it is a disinterested and universal view from nowhere, when it is not only particular, but often particularly crazy (cf. Marx, Freud, Dawkins, >insert irritating ideologue< here, yada yada).

At the very least, an ideological view is always from (in order) a contingent creature, from Homo sapiens, from an individual, and from a quite possibly nutty individual to boot. History is strewn with the wreckage of discarded perspectives that were eventually shown to be as unhinged as the NY Times editorial page.

Now, there is actually a view from nowhere, and this is the Godseye perspective. Obviously we cannot see from this perspective -- only God can -- but we can know of its existence, since it is none other than Necessary Existence.  

To say contingent is to say necessary, and this antinomy reveals quite a bit about ourselves and our dodgy situation. First, we are creatures and therefore not Creator -- or contingent and therefore not necessary, accident and therefore not substance, temporal and therefore not eternal, etc.

Second, we are human beings and therefore not beings below (e.g., mammals, reptiles, progressives, etc), nor Being As Such. 

And yet, we are uniquely ordered to Being, or in other words, the object of the intellect is That Which Is. This latter is Necessary Being, so while we aren't God, we're in a pretty sweet situation, cosmically speaking. 

Third, I am I and so are you (!?), which means that, in addition to sharing our biological humanness, we share something deeper than this, a mysterious right to say I AM without impinging on anyone else's right to say the same thing. 

The weirdness of this is insufficiently appreciated by pretty much everyone I meet on a day-to-day basis, hence the blog. The blog is a "cry for help" -- or perhaps a try to help. No, come to think of it, it's a good old American mutual assistance society. Every man is his own species, but the folks who realize this form their own meta-species, or herd of individuals.

For real, man! No joke! And the implications are truly cosmic.

Let's complete our quaternity of unavoidable perspectives by dragging up an old post from a few years back:

Lastly, there are human differences that are indeed contingent and not essential or providential. These include negative things such as mind parasites that result from the exigencies of genes and childhood environment, but also the accidental aspects of culture, language, and history. In order to exist at all, we must surely exist in a particular time and a particular place.

Elsewhere Schuon summarizes the accidents of existence as world, life, body, and soul; or more abstractly, "space, time, matter, desire." Cosmos, bios, soma, psyche. 

The purpose of metaphysics is to get beneath these accidents, precisely, and hence to a realm of true objectivity and therefore perennial truth (even though, at the same time, existence, life, and especially intelligence represent a continuous reminder, or breakthrough, of the miraculous). 

So anyway, back to the Skylight mentioned at the top. Now, the best skylight is nevertheless distinct from the Light flowing through it -- and is indeed its raison d'être -- which brings to mind another old post from way back last Saturday. 

In it we were not speculating about the preposterous gnotion of this Light actually joining us down here in history -- or in other words, the one-and-only View From Nowhere becoming a particular someone somewhere. This is without a doubt the weirdest idea we can imagine, if not weirder. 

From the new translation of John we've been reading:

"Isn't this fellow Jesus, the son of Joseph?" they were saying, "Don't we know his father and his mother? How is it that now he is saying, 'I have descended from heaven?'"

"This is offensive language. Who can stand to listen to it?"

What, you are from Galilee as well?!" they said to him in reply. "Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee."

The more ancient of the two old posts continues:

So, Incarnation solves all of these "problems." In short, the Creator, via Incarnation, takes on world, life, body, and soul; or space, time, matter, and desire.

"The truth is that God is drawn to us by love, that He has forcefully thrown in His lot with us, to the point of becoming one of us" (Reardon).

That post ends with this passage from a book called Reclaiming the Atonement, Volume 1: The Incarnate Word, by Patrick Reardon: 

The moment of the Incarnation was not static.... [for] to be a living human being is not a static thing. A human being -- any human being -- is a work in progress.... Strictly speaking, therefore, the doctrine of the Incarnation does not refer simply to a human state, but to a full human life.... [God makes] himself a subjective participant in human history, someone whose existence and experience were circumscribed by the limiting conditions of time and space.

Which seems like a good place to end. Again. 

Monday, September 13, 2021

I Am, therefore Truth Is

This post started off with a Point, but eventually devolved into a possibly pointless free-association.  However, I suspect the associations were implicitly ordered to a far off point that may or may not be vaguely illuminated by the end... 

Regarding the basis of esoterism, Schuon writes that 

Where there is a truth of Revelation, hence of formal and theological truth, there must also be a truth of intellection, hence of non-formal and metaphysical truth.

This statement encapsulates much of what motivates this blogger, and strikes him as necessarily, self-evidently, and undeniably true. So, what's the catch?  

As we know, a philosopher is just like anyone else, except with regard to the question Why? To back up a bit, the human station may almost be reduced to this question of questioning. Beings below us do not inquire into the causes of things, nor do those above. But as you know, you never really know, so there's no logical end or limit to the questioning. 

Having said this, it is understandable that most people will simply stop asking Why? after settling on a good-enough metaphysic. The average person can get through life just fine with Newtonian physics. It doesn't take an Einstein to get out of the way of the bus. There is no added value -- practically speaking -- to tweaking our everyday worldview so as to accommodate dark matter, black holes, or multiple universes. 

Indeed, the added complexity might just make survival more difficult, for we evolved in this world, -- the one available to our senses -- not in some abstract world of mathematical concepts.  Likewise, for a farmer, it scarcely matters whether the sun circles the earth or vice versa. The sun will still rise in the morning and he'll still have to plant in the spring.  

What does it matter if the world was created on Saturday, October 22, 4004 BC (as Archbishop Usher calculated) or banged into existence 13.7 billion years ago? For all practical purposes nothing important changes; babies will still need mothers, life will still be short, and the Dodgers will still be 2.5 games behind the Giants.

To be clear, we're not talking about the scientific implications, only the fact that science determines neither metaphysics above nor practical considerations below. When it's time to pay your taxes you can't tell the IRS that modern physics proves time doesn't exist. You can't dissolve your marriage by arguing it was an invalid contract because God doesn't exist.

In any event, the Average Person is content to live his life in a soph-limiting cognitive matrix, which is essentially a simulation of reality. Nor do we necessarily blame them. Asking Why? is a fooltime job fit mostly for misfits, gadflies, noodges, and crank bloggers with too much timelessness on their hands.  

So let's zoom out to the widest possible angle and ask ourselves: What's going on?  In other words, let's do what we always do, and check things out from a tricosmic metaperspective.  

Everyone, without exception needs a metaphysic, that is, an overarching explanation or paradigm to satisfy this intrinsic need. As we've said many times, man is the epistemophelic creature, meaning that he is born wanting to know.  

But it goes beyond this, because this Unlimited Seeking on our end is In Fact ordered to an Unlimited Object on the other. To enter the human station is to live in the dynamic tension between these poles, between the intellect here and its proper object up or over there. 

Nor can we ever arrive at the far side, for the journey is literally endless -- orthoparadoxically because there is an End, an End people call God, or which my people sometimes call O to avoid pretending we can know what we can only properly unKnow.

This endless epistemophila goes to our very essence: man essentially loves truth, because like is attracted to like. We love truth, for which reason its highest pursuit is rightly called philo-sophy.  

This post is beginning to lose focus, so let's return to the opening quote: if there is formal and theological truth -- which there Is -- it is ultimately because it is ordered to non-formal and metaphysical truth.

We can reduce this to a single word: Truth.  It reminds me of the "intelligent design" folks who go to all the trouble of trying to prove to us that the gene or the cell or the eye is so complex that it must have been designed.

The truth is at once more banal than we suppose and more liberating than we can imagine, for we can again reduce it to a single word: Intelligence. It is enough to say that the cosmos is pervaded by an immanent intelligence which thereby transcends it -- a transcendent intelligence that until very recent times was spontaneously understood to be God.  

Only an intelligent creature asks why; and only an intelligible cosmos furnishes answers.