Saturday, April 08, 2023

Arriving at God Via a Process of Illumination

Eh, just a short post because I'd rather write about something else.

The Divine Project. That's the name of this recently published book by Ratzinger, consisting of six lectures given in 1985 on the subject of "God the Creator and of man as this Creator's masterpiece." 

Masterpiece. Which leads directly to the question: Who goofed?  

Everybody everywhere every time? 

Which reminds me of the book I was reading yesterday called Socrates' Children by Peter Kreeft -- specifically, volume 4, covering "contemporary philosophers." In philosophy "contemporary" means the last couple hundred years, so it starts with Kierkrgaard. 

On the other hand, contemporary could mean anything after Plato. Or rather, Plato himself.  

Why, you may ask, am I reading such a basic survey? I can think of several reasons, but I won't burden you with them. One good reason is that these people are so obnoxious, or so shallow (albeit deeply shallow), or so tedious, or such poor writers, that I'd rather outsource the work to someone else.  

The most obnoxious is, of course, Nietzsche, who is pretty much the Don Rickles of philosophy. He even boasts of philosophizing "with a hammer," but in the end he turned out to be the anvil. 

Like the deconstructionists he inspired, if you take Nietzsche seriously, you can't possibly take him seriously. Unless you are fundamentally unserious, you hockey puck.

I remember reading him back when I literally knew nothing. I've mentioned before that when I began reading philosophy I started with recent ones like Nietzsche, Sartre, Foucault, Bergson, Russell, etc., on the assumption that philosophy progressed like science, so the most recent must be inherently superior. 

Yes, that is how stupid I was.

Aside from morbid curiosity, there is simply no reason to read Nietzsche as a philosopher after he blows off the will to truth -- AKA our innate epistemophilia, adequation to the real, and consciousness of the Absolute -- and asks Hey, why not rather untruth? 

I guess this appeals to an adolescent who knows nothing, because it instantly puts him on the same plane as the people who do know something. This is precisely how contemporary tenuroids are so superior to dullards like Shakespeare and Aquinas. 

Anyway, I thought I might go through these thinkers one by one and show their Big Mistake, i.e., exactly where they go off the rails. Through this process of elimination I would then show the truth of Christianity. Who is the Last Man Standing -- the One who laughs last? The answer may surprise you! 

I was even going to call it A Process of Illumination, but I'm already sick of the idea. Let the dead bury the tenured. 

Back to Ratzinger. The first lecture is called Image and Truth, and in reading it the thought occurred to me that we're back to right and left brain, respectively. 

Obviously, the OT in particular is quite provocative with images, for example, in Genesis, which no serious thinker ever took literally until modern unserious fundamentalism. "Since the beginning of Christianity,"

it was already, from a scientific point of view, more or less outdated. It embodied a different way of viewing the world from one that was common and accepted.

Definitely not an invalid way, just not a left-brained way. Rather, it is a kind of knowledge that renders "deeper, true realities accessible to man":

one has to distinguish between the form of presentation and the content being presented.... only this reality, that shines forth through the images, is truly enduring.   

Schuon often talks about how big-box religious retailers must speak to the common man and the average mentality, not to the metaphysician. But with a handful of principles, the metaphysician is easily able to unpack the timeless symbolism present in these narratives. 

"The danger confronting those of us who live in technological civilizations is that we have cut ourselves off from this primordial knowledge" due to the cerebral eclispe mentioned in yesterday's post. People are on the one hand "literate," but literally illiterate in the sense that they no longer know how to comprehend a symbolically resonant text. 

Today there is a dead body in the tomb. Tomorrow the tomb will be empty. Who died? Where is this tomb? 

Asked the deathbound, left-brained ego. 

Friday, April 07, 2023

The Perennial Pslackology

Last night I dreamt that I wrote, or was writing, a post called The Perennial Pslackology. So I guess dreams do come true, or at least we're about to find out.

What prompted this dream? I don't normally think about psychology any longer. Must be because last night I ordered a copy of McGilchrist's ginormous The Matter With Things, and he's a psychiatrist. 

I was skimming the preview on amazon, trying to determine whether any book is worth $85, and whether its entire thesis is beneath and behind us, or rather, if it might expand and complement our perspective. 

Almost everything and everyone has a narrower perspective than we do, so that's the concern. These Others may say things that are true on their own level and within a certain framework, but they take their framework for the framework. Which has been an understandable temptation ever since Genesis 3.

Speaking of which, yesterday I read a short book by Ratzinger called The Divine Project, containing some recently discovered lectures on the subject of creation, which is pretty much the largest conceivable subject. All other subjects are number two or lower, on the assumption that Creator and creation are not separately thinkable. After all, a Creator without creation is like a Father without a Son. Sad! 

The other reason I dreamt about psychology may be because I reread Norris Clarke's little book called Person and Being, one of our favorites. Now, it turns out that "person-and-being" is really just another way of saying "Creator-and-creation" (or creativity) and the relation between the two. 

And if there's one concept I retain from my former career as a psychologist, it's this principle of relation. Humanly speaking it is everything, for an "unrelated human" isn't one. It's not thinkable, whether we're talking about a baby born just now or the very first Homo who lifted his head and looked around 50,000 years ago and said WTF?!     

Problem is, "relation" is a tricksy concept, easy to over- or underlook, or to just assume. But it's not some accidental property, rather, absolutely essential, which -- in my opinion -- is precisely why God goes to all the trouble and expense of revealing it to us again this weekend. 

After all, any minimally sentient and curious primate (barring tenure) is able to arrive at the First Principle, the Unmoved Mover and Uncaused Cause. But to understand that this Being is irreducible substance-in-relation.... Well, this requires a little vertical assistance, AKA revelation, whether direct or indirect.

Coincidentally, Clarke quotes Ratzinger on the subject:

In the relational notion of person developed within the theology of the Trinity... lies concealed a revolution in man's view of the world: the undivided sway of thinking in terms of substance is ended; relation is discovered as an equally valid mode of reality (emphasis mine).

Perhaps you already understand just how revolutionary, but it's a rather big deal, and here is where I think McGilchrist can contribute, because relation is something apprehended via the right cerebral hemisphere. 

But modernity has resulted in a kind of cerebral eclipse, such that the left brain has become hypertrophied to the detriment of the right. Again, this is a simplistic way of conceptualizing it, but close enough for blogging.

Whatever the cause, this whole idea of substance-in-relation seems difficult for folks to grasp instead of being the most obvious thing. Once heard, it should ring every bell in your cabeza instead of eliciting the bovine stare.

The bottom line is that God is not substance, nor the relation between, but substance-in-relation. Once seen, it can never be unseen: "To be fully is to be substance-in-relation" (Clarke).

If you're the sentimental type you could even call this luv, but it is also knowledge and beauty, and even their very possibility. Each of these categories is an adeqation, which is why knowledge of anything is knowledge of and in God. Barring tenure, of course. 

It is also why, in the words of the Aphorist, 

Every genuine work of art speaks to us of God. No matter what it says.

Think about Homo sapiens, who are (not is!) the image and likeness of the Principle. 

No, seriously, think about it. Or, if that's too hard, just look at that wall over there. Notice that the wall is related to you. But you are not related to the wall. Walls are not related to anything. They're just walls. Especially if they're tenured.

Relationality is not somehow accidental to the human condition, but absolutely essential: no relationality, no human, simple as. 

Nor is this merely "external relations," like billiard balls, or walls in the university. Rather, we're talking about interiority and irreducible intersubjectivity, which is just about the queerest thing imagineable in a heretofore "objective" universe. 

In other words, roughly 13.8 billion years of objects flying around and then boom, intersubjectivity.

You're damn right WTF?!

Put it this way: if you don't say WTF?!, you're just wrong, or possibly autistic. Or tenured, of course.

Do we even have time to dive into The Divine Project, or is that enough for one morning? 

Understood. We'll get to it tomorrow, unless the Dreamer has other ideas.

Thursday, April 06, 2023

Like a River that Can't Find the Sea

Continuing our round trip of the cosmos, Thomas writes that

The whole of the divine work finds its culmination in the fact that man, the last creature created, returns to his source by a kind of circle, when through the work of the Incarnation he finds himself united to the very source of things.

As they say, first in the order of intention is last in the order of execution. 

Speaking of orders, Thomas casually places our ontological circularity in the order of "fact." And since it's a brute fact, I suppose it's up to us to trace the consequences. 

The first consequence that comes to mind is that we are all situated somewhere on the circle, whether or not we acknowledge the fact of the circle.

Thomas raises another point -- and implies another -- in that if Christ completes the circle, then the circle isn't a circle in the absence of Christ.  

Of course, much depends on what we mean by "Christ," for I have other sheep that are not of this fold.

One also thinks of St. Augustine's gag to the effect that That which is known as the Christian religion existed among the ancients, and never did not exist, not forgetting the old wheeze that God becomes man that man might become God. 

Schuon also has some far-out thoughts about the metacosmic Christ, so to speak:

Christ is the Intellect of microcosms as well as that of the macrocosm. He is then the Intellect in us as well as the Intellect in the Universe and a fortiori in God; in this sense, it can be said that there is no truth nor wisdom that does not come from Christ, and this is evidently independent of all consideration of time and place. 



Just as "the Light shines in the darkness; and the darkness did not comprehend it," so too the Intellect shines in the darkness of passions and illusions. 

I could bend those into a minimally orthodox interpretation, but the deeper point is that "Christ" is big, it's the cosmos that got small. 

In other words, a more expansive apprehension of the total cosmic ecology, or pneumosphere, brings with it a "larger" conception of God. Which still won't be large enough. Nor queer enough, of course.

Back to the circle, it seems that man can't help looking at life this way, even if life is reduced to a horizontal circle. I was thinking about this the other day, at the funeral for my aunt-in-law. She planned the whole thing out to the last detail -- she didn't want any surprises -- and chose an OB-GYN friend to be the master of ceremonies. 

I thought to myself, How ironic that a man who spends his days bringing people into the world is now ushering one out. 

As the body was lowered into the ground -- which man has been doing since he elbowed ahead of the animals -- I recalled that this is how primordial man conceptualized the circle, i.e., from-and-back to Mother Earth. 

Some people say that this was the point of those underground cave paintings -- as if one could descend into the womb of nature and ensure its fecundity by repopulating it with symbolic images. 

The question is, why don't modern climate cultists do the same thing by painting ice and snow on the walls? It would be just as effective as $6 gas in California.

History: if not for some kind of Christ-principle, where is it going, anyway? 

I don't see how it can be going anywhere but nowhere. To paraphrase Jobim again, we'd be running and searching for God like a river that can't find the sea.

And that would be SAD.

Wednesday, April 05, 2023

All Roads Lead To and From O

We're still pondering the ins & outs of having a complementary pair of cerebral hemispheres, and what this tells us about the cosmos. 

To put it analogously, left brain is to horizontal as is right to vertical -- this being the case however we construe the neurology. In other words, the important point is the two ways of knowing, and the two worlds they know, not their basis in brain anatomy. 

Conversely, angels don't need bilateral brains because they don't need brains at all. Rather, they penetrate directly to the essence without any need of mediation, so it is as if they have access to a form of knowing that combines left and right, or more likely, that our form(s) of knowing is the bifurcation of a prior unity. 

Indeed, if we proceed all the way up, there is a timeless unity of intellect, will, and everything else in a way we can't conceptualize, precisely because we know via the mediation of concepts. Help us out here, Thomas!


possess perfect knowledge of intelligible truth, [and] have no need to advance from one thing to another, but apprehend the truth simply and without mental discussion.

End of discussion, for this is true whatever you call them and irrespective of whether or not they exist. We say this because once you understand what man is, and therefore who God is, you have posited a vertical hierarchy that necessitates these angelic links on pain of absurdity.

I am somebody.

Yes you are, minus the body.

I am nobody.

Correct: I am somebody. To be precise,

It seems that the soul does not differ from an angel except in its union with the body.... The body is not of the essence of the soul; but the soul by the nature of its essence can be united to a body, so that, properly speaking, not the soul alone, but the composite, is the species. 

And the very fact that the soul in a certain way requires the body for its operation, proves that the soul is endowed with a grade of intellectuality inferior to that of the angel, who is not united to a body.

Ha ha (Muntz).

Now, if man has prerogatives, they are all functions, so to speak, of the Prerogative, AKA the Prime Vertical Directive:

It is often argued, in a theological climate, that the human intellect is too weak to know God; now the reason for being of the intellect is precisely this knowledge, indirect and indicative in a certain respect, and direct and unitive in another (Schuon, emphasis mine). 

Left and right, rational and mystical, human and angelic, respectively. We only know about angelic intelligence because we partake of it in an analogous way. 


Each of the prerogatives of the human state, being in its own way a cosmos, comprises two poles, an active and a passive, or a dynamic and a static (ibid).

And we may trace this complementarity all the way up and into God, who is the "motionless mover," or the transcendent Center whose immanent Periphery is everywhere, or the Son who has been proceeding from the Father since timelessness out of mind. 

Thus, in our intelligence we see the "discernment and contemplation" or "analysis and synthesis" of what some folks attribute to left and right cerebral hemispheres, which is to reverse cause and effect, but that's okay. 

For again, if you want to travel with me all the way up to God, well, first of all, we're not going anywhere without Thomas, who holds that 

creation -- the emergence of creatures from God, the first principle -- finds its explanation in the fact that even in God there is an "emergence from the Principle," namely the procession of the Word from the Father (Torrell).

Damn right it's a circular argument:

Thomas's thought is itself profoundly impregnated with this circular vision of the world, to such an extent that he does not hesitate to say that "circular movement is the most perfect of all because it produces a return to the beginning. In order that the universe may attain to its final perfection, it must therefore return to its beginning" (ibid).

On the left (Aristotelian) hand, "all men by nature desire to know." On the right (bi-logical) hand, man is the only being "capable of a complete return to its source," AKA beautitude." All truths are emanations of the True, just as all goods are prolongations of the Good.

Help us out here, Thomas!

Although they find themselves in a dispersed state in all creation, these goods are gathered together in man, for he is a kind of horizon, the limit where bodily and spiritual nature meet (if I may be so bold).

Now, who is that spirals down the celestial firepole on wings of slack, seizes the wheel of the cosmic bus, and abides in a bewilderness adventure of higher nondoodling while careening right over the subjective horizon?

Being a kind of midpoint, he participates in both spiritual and temporal goods.... That is why when human nature was reunited with God through the mystery of the Incarnation, all the rivers of natural goods returned to their source

And all the roads end and begin in Celestial Central:

Whose New Testavus for the Restavus blows the locked doors of the empyrean off their rusty old hinges and sheds a beam of intense darkness on the world enigma? Who is the Biggest Fakir of the Vertical Church of God Knows What, channeling the roaring torrent of O into the feeble stream of cyberspace?

Talk about a short bus.

Monday, April 03, 2023

The Patterned Transrationality of the Trinity

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I'm reading this 400 page book on the Trinity called  Catholic Dogmatic Theology: A Synthesis, by Jean-Herve Nicolas.

I'm about three-fourths of the way through, and it is a good illustration of what happens when you try to analyze with the "left brain" what can really only be approached via the "right." 

(I put these in quotes for reasons alluded to yesterday, because any neurology is a function of ontology, AKA the real nature of things, which is to say, vertical & horizontal, celestial & terrestrial, transcendent & immanent, time & eternity, Hope & Crosby, boxers & briefs, et al.)

Two words: boxer briefs.

Correct you are, my discarnate friend. In short, we must never forget that the so-called complementarity principle applies to much more than wave-particle.


Thaaat's right, Pedro. Thinking of the Godhead as a wavicle solves so many problems that truly, I want to slap my mama.

Say, can you do that for me? She hasn't been here for 30 years.

Sure, right after I kick Stalin in the nuts.

I don't usually prepare for a post, but last night I reviewed an essay by Norris Clarke called To Be Is to Be Substance-in-Relation, because this guy not only speaks for me, but is decidedly my kind of guy. Again, his approach solves so many theological conundrums with just a little tweak of the neuro-pneumatology. 

It also makes me wonder if the same idea is expressed differently in Bomford's The The Symmetry of God. Let us check, and even see if we might synthesize the two into a mega-complementarity. 

No index, so I'll have to flip. Ah, here we go: there's something on p. 128. Let's hope it fulfills expectations.

He notes that a raw description of the Trinity is "profoundly paradoxical," because how can one be three and vice versa? Anyone with a bare acquaintance with the everyday asymmetrical reasoning of Aristotle will rightly say, Nah brah, that is repugnant to logic.

Yes, but strange things are afoot in the Godhead, which calls for a strange logic:

Ontology failed to make rational what the doctrine of the Trinity asserted, that there could be absolutely and completely one, and yet be distinctly, also, three.  
Symmetric logic, however, has no difficulty with this problem whatever: indeed it is apt to impose such "amalgamations," even when the factual evidence denies it (emphasis mine).
What he means is that since humans by nature have access to a complementary form of logic, there will be a sense in which we cannot help seeing God in a trinitarian way (not necessarily literally, more on which later).

I was thinking last night that there are some additional conceptual tools that can help us penetrate the Trinity; we've mentioned complementarity and the bi-logic of symmetry + asymmetry, to which I would add intersubjectivity and fractal geometry. 

Regarding the former, note that in the immanent Trinity, 

Each person wholly indwells each other, and each is indwelt by each other. Thus between each pair within the Trinity the symmetric law of reflection is dominant, save only for "begetting" and "proceeding" [and begotten].

To say that each indwells the other is to say irreducible intersubjectivity. And to ask how God could be intersubjective is the wrong question, brah. 

Rather, how could he not be? For 1) human beings are irreducibly intersubjective or they are not human beings, 2) intersubjectivity is a perfection, not a privation, 3) man is the I. and L. of the Creator, so 4) this perfection must be eminently present in him.

As for the patterned transrationality of fractals, a thousand pictures are worth more than a single post, that last one even suggesting Incarnation or something (e.g., God's energies):

Sunday, April 02, 2023

Waiting for the Rabbit to Come Out of the Book Hole

As I've said on many occasions, I suspect we are equipped with left and right cerebral hemispheres that process reality in different ways because they are essentially adequations to the horizontal and vertical, respectively. 

Just as math isn't a substitute for music, a well-oiled right brain knows things the left can't even dream of. 

For one thing, dreaming itself is a very right-brainish thing, in the sense that it is nonlinear and transtemporal: symmetrical logic is like the velvet moon that shares your pillow and watches while you sleep, where Aristotelian logic takes over as the morning sun slowly rises and kisses you awake.

If Serdio Mendes is correct.

Speaking of which, I still haven't gotten to The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions and the Unmaking of the World. Maybe later this month when the amazon points come in. But it looks like McGilchrist spends 1,500 pages saying what I just said up there (

Like anyone could know that without reading the book.

Fair enough. Besides, if I'm going to spend $75 on a book, it had better tell me something I don't know. 

It is impossible to imagine Schuon writing a 1,500 page book. The man was concise, partly because he never abused the reader by "thinking out loud." 

Rather, everything was thought through beforehand: analyzed, synthesized, and even aestheticized, since he was always mindful that the manner of expression must reflect the loftiness of the subject matter.  

Also, importantly, although he never wrote in the first person, you had better believe that everything he says is filtered through the first person, i.e., rooted in experience. Now, one can say his experiences are delusory or deceptive -- as is true of any mystical experience -- but you can't say he didn't undergo them.

Which then comes down to trust, or rather, to the eternal question: This guy -- is this my kind of guy? This is a question one must always ask, from, say, Christ at one end to Bob at the other. I am frankly surprised that I am anyone's kind of guy, and I could prove the point if I had a site meter. 

Anyway, everything we've said so far was provoked by the following passage:
The human being, when defined or described according to the principle of duality, is divided into an outward man and an inward man; one being sensorial-cerebral and terrestrial, and the other intellective-cardiac and celestial (Schuon). 

Again "left and right brain" are just crude ways of talking about this. To put it another way, our neurological layout is a necessary but not sufficient condition for undergoing vertical (intellective-cardiac, or celelestial/vertical) perception and experience.

Importantly, both modes require training. And you could say that a religious practice is this vertical training, precisely, very much like aesthetic training. 

For example, one doesn't write a song in computer code with the left brain, or Bill Gates would be an artist or holy man instead of a wholly cretinous man.

Speaking of which, there's an amusing passage in Neil Young's autobiography in which he reflects on the question of where songs come from and how to catch one. Turns out it's much like trying to capture a post, although mine are not chemically aided, caffeine notwithstanding:

I have not written one song since I stopped smoking weed in January 2011, so we are currently in the midst of a great chemical experiment.

I haven't smoked pot since one time in November 1999, and before that in 1982, and neither experience was anything to write om about. 

When I write a song, it starts with a feeling. I can hear something in my head or feel it in my heart. It may be that I just picked up the guitar and mindlessly started playing. That's the way a lot of songs begin. When you do that, you are not thinking. Thinking is the worst thing for writing a song. So you just start playing and something new comes out.

Now, "Where does it come from?" Correct: the same place a post comes from:

Who cares? Just keep it and go with it. That's what I do. I never judge it. I believe it. It came as a gift when I picked up my musical instrument. The chords and melody just appeared. Now is not the time for interrogation or analysis. Now is the time to get to know the song, not change it before you even get to know it.

Common courtesy. It's very much an "other," isn't it? And yet, we would have no access to this other absent the experiential mode of encountering it: "It is like a wild animal, a living thing. Be careful not to scare it away."

Shhh. Quiet.

Songs are like rabbits and they like to come out of their holes when you're not looking, so if you stand there waiting they will just burrow down and come out somewhere far away, a new place where you can't see them. So I feel like I am standing over a song hole. That will never result in success.

Same. If I stare over a post hole, nothing will happen, or rather, just a boring and predictable post. Only if I turn off my mind and surrender to the void will I surprise myself, or rather, something (O)ther will surprise me.  

This explains why I get overwhelmed when I think about the book hole, for it's much like trying to wrangle the world's largest rabbit and bring it back from a dream, and that may require something stronger than caffeine.

Anybody ever fool around with nicotine pouches? Tucker speaks highly of them, and I suspect they contribute to the outbursts of giggling on air.

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