Monday, June 05, 2023

In the Beginning is the Un-word

"Being," says McGilchrist, "is mysterious."

"McGilchrist," says BOb, "is durn tootin'."

We always know more than we did the day before, but we are nevertheless as plunged into mystery as we were the decade, century, or millennium before, which is to say, always. If anything, the world just keeps getting weirder, and yet, people behave as if all this is normal. 

This is your excuse?  


Mysticism is the empiricism of transcendent knowledge.

Bum? Underachiever? Goldbricking deadbeat? I think not:

The mystic is the only one who is seriously ambitious.

In other words, a hee-ro. For our times. And at least I'm housebroken.

Mystery is less disturbing than the fatuous attempt to exclude it by stupid explanations.

Problem is, the remystification of the world really is a kind of full-time job. But truly truly, someone has to do it, no? Most everyone else is employed to demystify things, and I thank them for their service, I really do. But what would happen if the world -- and human beings -- really were totally demystified? 

Seriously, think about it. Would that not be another name for hell? At the very least it would make for a good Twilight Zone episode -- a reverse Kafka, in which everything makes perfect sense:
As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneventful dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into an innocuous professor of entomology. 

Who wants to watch The Fully Illuminated Zone? 

I like daylight as much as the next guy, but what if there were no night? Some people are afraid of the dark, and I get it, but what about those monsters of the light, e.g., rationalism, scientism, Marxism? Exponentially more people were murdered in the broad ideological daylight of the 20th century than in the so-called Dark Ages.

It's like we need an explicit program for the remystification of the world. In the larger scheme of things this is what the sabbath is about: like the Creator, we devote one day a week to... to what exactly? 
The problem is that if we are to say anything about it, we still need some sort of placeholder, within language, for all those aspects of Being that defy direct expression, but which we sense are greater than the reality which language is apt to describe, almost certainly greater than whatever the human mind can comprehend (McGilchrist). 

Hmm, a placeholder for noplace, an empty variable for the Mystery of Being, an unsaturated translinguistic pneumaticon to say what can't be said and unsay what can...


I like it. It simultaneously conveys the no-thing of zee-ro and the eternity & everything of the complete circle. It is like an endless spiral of nothing and everything and nothing, etc. 

What we need, in fact, is a word unlike any other, not defined in terms of anything else: a sort of un-word (ibid.).


Here is the dilemma, and why I speak of an un-word: if we have no word, something at the core of existence disappears from our shared world of awareness; yet if we have a word, we will come to imagine we have grasped the nature of the divine, pinned it down and delimited it, even though by the very nature of the divine this is something that can never be achieved (ibid.).

Agreed. Even the greatest achiever can never achieve divinity. 

But an un-word is not enough. Rather, someone needs to develop an unsaturated un-language in order to map what goes on up there... someone who perhaps can look back on a life of achievement, but whose career has, uh, slowed down a bit lately... not a goldbricking deadbeat, exactly, but not an everyday achiever either...


julie said...

not a goldbricking deadbeat, exactly, but not an everyday achiever either...

Something like a Little Lebowski Suburban Non-Achiever?

We just finished discussing a brief history of the atom with the kiddos, particularly the fact that the more we know, the less we understand. Trying to understand the material fabric of the universe has a lot in common with trying to understand the nature of O, which of course only stands to reason.

Gagdad Bob said...

I think it was Neils Bohr who said something to the effect that anyone who claims to understand modern physics proves that he doesn't.

Oriental Jazzman said...

Bird is of course No. 1 when blues are blown, this is a Red Garland marathon blues session, or a horace silver sound source. But it's the so-called city blues in the black city of the city, both Bird and other black jazmen.

But Jackie's blues are the tiny delta blues of the southern United States, and there's no one in jazz-with this feeling, Johnny. I feel it like Winter or Allman, I feel.

Jackie's melody feeling, from the common sense of ordinary music, it's quite strange, but I listen to the slide of Maddy Waters And I think that the point will go, I think that saxophone blown expressed here in jazz-only Albert Eyler after Jackie. Even in Coltrane still sprout within common sense of ordinary music.

julie said...

It's beer o'clock; not sure if it's available everywhere, but Hangar 24 is a good local beer if anyone is looking for an alternative to the various AB brands.

Gagdad Bob said...

It's a golden age of microbrews.

Gagdad Bob said...

Probably a good thing the golden age didn't intersect with my college years, because some of them have such a high alcohol content, I'd be dead.

Gagdad Bob said...

I remember when we were short of money we'd be reduced to drinking malt liquor, which had much more alcohol than regular beer, but was NASTY.

julie said...

Never tried that. I wasn't much of a drinker when I was younger, a night of too many Long Island Iced Teas convinced me that was not the life for me...

Gagdad Bob said...

From 18 to 23 or so I was rarely sober. But all my friends were the same way, so I not only thought it was normal, I figured normal people were just living lives of quiet desperation in a horribly unmedicated state.

julie said...

Used to be pretty normal, I think. I always felt like the weird one for not enjoying being drunk. These days the kids are medicating with other things; I'm not at all sure it's an improvement.

Anonymous said...

I remember a preacher telling me that Satan wouldn’t come as a red demon all horns and hooves, but rather, he’d be a beautiful woman all sexy and seductive. It was only much later in life that I realized that Satan was actually a tranny.

And so as it was, one morning God arrived to start his daily business. And then Satan showed up a bit late, clumsily clomping about in dress and heels. God muttered: “Oh for the love of me…” Satan replied: “Yeah laugh now loser. But it works.” And it's been that way ever since.

We must be cautious.

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