Saturday, July 15, 2023

Ontological Bridge Collapse, Reality Dwellers Left Stranded

So, if ideologies are just modern myths, this implies that myths are just premodern ideologies -- at least in the sense Voegelin is using the term. 

Thanks to a certain post-Christian spiritual sensoyboyity -- you know the type -- there's an awful lot of mythologizing of myth, but in the end, they're all just wrong

Certainly you don't want to exchange myth for actual science just to sprinkle some new age fairy dust over your pathetically disenchanted life. You can romanticize primitive peoples all you like, but there's nothing romantic about human sacrifice or body mutilation, pervert. 

(Speaking of which: next up in the reading list is a new compilation of essential writings of Rene Girard,  All Desire is a Desire for Being [])

Obviously there is a correct way to re-enchant your life, but it's not via sweat lodges, crystal gazing, dream catchers, drum circles, laws of attraction, sacred geometry, oracle cards, past-life regression, power animals, vision boards, et al (

Again, for Voegelin, what makes a myth a myth is its imputation of the extra-cosmic, transcendent ground of reality to some intra-cosmic thing: "It is myth when you tell a story of an intracosmic ground." 

As for all those modern and postmodern myths under which we labor, well, although they've all been discredited, the ongoing abundance of Conservative Fail is proof enough that winning every argument is utterly beside the point, and that "one must not be too optimistic with regard to the power of ideologies."

For example, the collapse of the Soviet Union did little to slow the train of neo-Marxian bullshit -- of its metastasis into every coroner of the corporate-media-journalism-academic death complex, AKA the Matrix, the Borg, the Blob, the endless Night of the Living Dead.

Just because they are moving, it doesn't mean they are alive; rather, it's just the ideological momentum that can
last a long while, because there is a vested interest in them. Every new generation is brought into them through college education, and it takes a while until they snap out of it. The college teaching level is usually thirty, fifty, or more years behind what is going on.

This implies that if you want to be completely up to date with the myths of 1968, by all means, attend college!

Good news / bad news, I guess. On the one hand, "nobody can be an ideologist if he is intelligent to any degree or a man of stature," but so what? No one ever called Joe Biden intelligent, much less a man of stature. 

Next up is an essay called Debate and Existence, which goes over much of the same ground as the previous lecture, but with Voegelin this isn't a bad thing, given the degree of difficulty of the material, plus repetition being the mother of pedagogy and all that. 

Let's start with the modest proposal that it is impossible to debate someone living in a different reality, to say nothing of the person who refuses to acknowledge that there is an objective reality. If we can't agree on this minimum standard, then there's nothing to discuss: 

Only if the partners to the debate accept as binding 'the matrix of reality' can such a debate occur.

First of all, let's not confuse the matrix of reality with what we call the Matrix, or what Voegelin calls the "second realities" that eclipse genuine reality. You've no doubt noticed that when debating one of these lo-fo NPC ideological zombies, it gradually then suddenly becomes clear that 

argument is not pitched against argument, but that behind the appearance of a rational debate there lurks the difference of two modes of existence, of existence in truth and existence in untruth. The universe of rational discourse collapses, we may say, when the common ground of existence in reality has disappeared.

To be continued.... 

Friday, July 14, 2023

You're Gorounded!

The previous post touched on E.F. Schumacher's A Guide for the Perplexed, which was an influence back in the day, especially in terms of helping me turn the cosmos bright-side up, and to heal those nasty ontological discontinuities, say, from matter to life, life to mind, and mind on up to O:

Man has powers of life [symbolized "x"] like the plant, powers of consciousness like the animal [y], and evidently something more: the mysterious power "z." 

With the emergence of z, "Consciousness and intelligence, as it were, recoil upon themselves," which is close to how Voegelin conceives apperception, which is to the interior or intrapsychic world as perception is to the exterior and extramental. 

Note that the World as such must include both poles, but that many if not most thinkers forget all about the thinking end.

Importantly, neither end is something we can grasp in a oncenforall manner; rather, we always live in the dynamic tension between them -- or even in the Between as such. 

I suppose I first encountered a drop of this nocean in the writings of psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott, who spoke of the "transitional space" between mother and infant, a space we never outgrow, to put it mildly, for it is the very space in which growth takes place. 

Similarly, according to Schumacher,

This power z, consciousness recoiling upon itself, opens up unlimited possibilities of purposeful learning, investigating, exploring, and of formulating and accumulating knowledge. 

Well, not literally unlimited, since we are necessarily limited by existence between the poles of the cosmic tension just mentioned. 

So much ideo-illogical mischief is caused by tossing out one side in order to eliminate the tension! Idealists to the north of us, materialists to the south, but we're always stuck in the middle (and vice versa, since this tension only exists in us, supposing we tolerate it).

BTW, does this make us relativists? LOL and STFU. For one thing, we just described the objectively scientific perennial and totally rational nature of man and his existence forever, so go annoy someone else.

Briefly, back to E.F:

Man can be written         M

Animal can be written    M - z

Plant can be written        M - z - y

Mineral can be written    M - z - y - x

Does this imply that God can be written O minus M? That's kind of a stupid question, but we will need to meditate on the nature of the relation. 

But for starters, man is a person, and the ground and principle of personhood is situated within O. A principle is that from which something flows or is entailed, and I suppose I would express it schematically thus:




Although we are (¶), we always live in the tension of (⇅). If you're looking for the cosmic goround, you've found it.

Okay, but what happens if we ignore the tension? One of two things, or rather, two ways of the same thing, that thing being Genesis 3 All Over Again. At one end you become your own personal godling, at the other you become like unto a man, only worse.

But let's get back to Voegelin, shall we? I'd like to finish our discussion of this chapter, called In Search of the Ground, (which for us is the metacosmic goround mentioned above, for the Tension is actually in the form of a spiral. IMO).

The Ground of existence is an experienced reality of a transcendent nature toward which one lives in tension.

Concur. And it is our task and our privilege to be vertically open (o) to this transcendent ground, which is really another name for religion, which always, in some form or fashion,

means openness toward the Ground of existence, because we all experience our own existence as not existing out of itself but as coming from somewhere even if we don't really know from where. 

I know from where: O. But that's just a way of symbolizing my knowledge of not knowing in principle. Nor is it a matter of insufficient knowledge, rather, too much, as in how the owl is blinded at nOOn.

That is reason: openness toward the ground.  

Again, the ground is the supreme, ineffable, transcendent reality which may be regarded as the source or O-rigin of the world, the beyond, and the participatory tension between them. 

Conversely, myth -- whether primitive or postmodern (i.e., more primitive) involves a collapse of the Tension and an intra-worldly just-so story, from Witoto and his long leak, to the village Darwinist (in the literal sense). There's one Tension, but a million ways of making it go away, all pathological.

Myth as such 

can be defined, I think fairly exactly and there are no exceptions to it, as imputation of the ground to other intracosmic things. It is myth when you tell a story of an intracosmic ground. 

Looked at this way, a scientistic story of, say, the big bang, that pretends to be sufficient to account for existence is just a myth, whereas Genesis 1 is not a myth, since its whole point is to locate the ultimate transcendent ground totally outside the cosmos. One of its additional purposes is to counterpose this radically new metaphysic to all those intracosmic pagan myths circulating at the time. 

In our day, we call these myths "ideologies," but that's a somewhat new subject, so we'll close up shop for today. 

Thursday, July 13, 2023

The Immutable Truth of Existence, and Now What?

We were talking about human rationality and means-end relations. Because -- and to the extent that -- we are rational, we do things for reasons. One reason turns out to be a means to another reason, but the series cannot go on forever and still be called rational. Rather, with no ultimate reason, everything is reduced to a cosmic whatever:

If we want to know whether we act rationally, we must consider whether we have an ultimate purpose, that is, an end to the chain, which can no longer be converted into a means for a further purpose (Voegelin). 


To have an ultimate purpose in life, as unifier for all single rationalities of action, is a condition of rationality for the whole life. 

This doesn't mean there is such an ultimate purpose, but there are hints. For example, if I tell you I blog in order to discover truth, only a true nihilist would ask, "Why would you want to know truth? Besides, there's no such thing." 

The same goes for other transcendentals such as beauty and virtue, or just happiness. People may be wrong about the nature of happiness, but even a masochist chooses unhappiness because he thinks it will make him happy. 

Voegelin then veers back to his Thang, which is political science. He calls it a "science of rationality of our actions, including the ultimate good from which rationality radiates over the whole chain of action."

Correct: this goes to why what we call "politics" these days is much closer to primitive religion and myth than it is to politics in the classic sense. For Aristotle,

if there is only an indefinite chain there is no ultimate rationality. Therefore if you want to have ultimate rationality there must be an ultimate purpose. 

B-b-but... is there? An Ultimate Purpose? If so, is it knowable? By us? Either way, it is perfectly rational to affirm that

We have no ultimate science of action unless we know something about an ultimate ground.

Put conversely, if there is no ultimate ground, then we can rationally conclude that we're not the Rational Animal after all. Rather, the rationalizing animal. Which calls to mind a zinger by Ben Franklin:

So convenient a thing is it to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.


But hey now, he's not wrong, supposing there is no ultimate ground.

Okay. Now what? 

Well, whether or not we have an ultimate purpose, we always act as if we do -- "as of our life made some sort of sense."

Speaking as a lapsed psychologist, what is a patient but a person whose life no longer makes sense, or makes the wrong kind of sense?

In fact, this is one of the reasons psychology began to bore me, because without a full blown restoration of the Ultimate Purpose, most of the intermediate purposes are more or less trivial or silly. 

My son is going through a bit of an identity crisis, in that he's finished high school, so now what? He's too intelligent for college, which (real subjects notwithstanding) is an institution to indoctrinate malleable idiots into the state religion. 

Back when I was 17 I was an idiot, but at least I knew I was an idiot. Therefore, I proceeded straight to college knowing full well that its main benefit was to prolong my adolescence as long as possible. 

I was one of the lucky ones, because I didn't finish grad school until I was 32. Which didn't mean adolescence was over, but it did mean I was getting closer to the quandary my son is struggling with, which is to say, Now what?

Speaking of idiot college students, of whom I am chief,

I find students frequently are flabbergasted, especially those who are agnostics, when I tell them that they all act, whether agnostics or not, as if they are immortal! Only under the assumption of immortality, of a fulfillment beyond life, is the seriousness of action intelligible that they actually put into their work and that has a fulfillment nowhere in this life however long they may live. 

They all act as if their lives made sense immortally, even if they deny the existence of a psyche, deny the existence of a Divinity -- in brief, if they are just the sort of fairly corrupt average agnostics that you find among college students today (ibid.).

For proof of this, just ask one of them: Why not be racist? Or make fun of trannies? What's the difference?

Not only is my son not stupid, he's also not corrupt, so that's two strikes against him in terms of assimilating himself into the Matrix. I passed along some fatherly advice, but let's stick with Voegelin for the moment. He's our metacollege advisor. 

Everyone acts as if he had an ultimate purpose, whether explicit or implicit, articulate or inarticulate, intelligent or tenured, etc. 

I didn't say this to my son, but for me -- and for the Raccoon more generally -- it is as if we turn the bi-cosmic telos-scope around and begin at the far end -- in other words, of course there is an Ultimate Purpose, hence all of the sub-purposes that only make sense in light of it. 

For example, if there is no O, then I would not -- could not -- have poured out these millions of intelligible words over these past 17 years of aggravated blogorrhea. 

But that's my problem. And the current problem is making sense of Voegelin, so let's get back to it, for he's either way wrong or way right. There can be no in-between here: it's either O or Ø, and if the latter, you're not even free to choose it.

Has this post gone on too long? We're already over 1,000 words, and we're just getting started.

I'll beg your indulgence for one more point, something that first crossed my radar a few decades ago in E.F. Schumacher's Guide for the Perplexed

First of all, if you're not perplexed, you're just wrong. Or maybe a college student. At any rate, Voegelin talks about how we -- Homo sapiens, that is -- are obviously composed of inorganic matter, and that we are also animated by a principle of Life, like any other animal.

The question then simply is: By what is man distinguished from animals, from plants, from inorganic matter? The answer is: by his life of reason. 

Schumacher, like us, does not start at the bottom, because you can't get here -- to the immaterial psyche or intellect -- from there. Thus, instead of saying that man is matter + life + x, he begins at the top, and says that an animal or college student is life minus x. Therfore, according to Voegelin,

conformity to the life of reason is what is best for man in order to live out his nature.... All preferences on the merely biological level of instincts and urges, or on the merely psychological level of hedonism or satisfaction or pleasures, or on the merely metabolic level of having good food, are on a lower level, which is not worth being considered as the ultimate purpose.

With an important caveat, which goes back to the fatherly advice alluded to above: that real purpose in life is not located in the middle range of an opinionated ape, but up close and personal, with the above noted instincts, urges, passions, pleasures, and satisfactions; and at the far end of Ultimate Purpose. 

In short, a Raccoon life worthy of the name includes both ends of the spectrum. We don't waste our timelessness on the vast middle range of stupid.

1,320 more words added to the pile. More than enough for this morning. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

In Search of the Cosmic Ground

Yesterday we looked around for the World, today we'll try to discover its Ground. For Voegelin, "in all civilizations there exists a quest for the ground of everything with regard to existence and essence," although "these searches are expressed symbolically in widely varying forms."

The first voice that barges into my head is Schuon's, who says of both "traditional peoples and peoples in general," that they are "dominated by two key-ideas, the idea of Center and the idea of Origin." 

You could say that the Center is more vertical, the Origin more horizontal, and we can be more or less distant from each, albeit in different ways (the first in ontological "space," the second in time). 

For example, we are roughly 2032 years from the Origin, while mileage obviously varies with respect to distance from the (vertical) Center.

I don't know if we need to get into subtleties regarding the proximity of the eshchatological Origin at this very moment, because we're thinking about this more in purely scientific and rational than religious terms per se. We'll come back to the ultra-rationality of our perspective as we proceed, but not only is it rational, it is the very basis of a life deserving of the name.  

A rational life. Note that one may try to live an "intra-rational" life, but doing so would constitute the last word in irrationality; it is to confine oneself to a or even the Matrix for reasons we will also get into, but for now let's just say you can fool yourself but you cannot, under any absurcumstances, fool Gödel.

Orthoparadoxically, a truly rational life will be meta- or transrational, which is not to say irrational, rather, in conformity with the very ground of rationality, otherwise you are simply enclosed in your own "ultimately" arbitrary premises. 

We put arbitrary in scare quotalics, because this source of ultimacy will be none other than you in all your assoulery, even if you've only assimilated these premises via cultural osmosis. In other words, tenure is no excuse for locking yourself into the Matrix and literally throwing away the key. 

As we shall see, the doors of the Matrix are always locked from the inside. And if you can't see through the windows to the transcendent ground, it is only because you have closed the blinds; to be sure, you are in a world, but it is a more or less cramped and poorly lit room of the World. 

Frankly you are living in a cave, but no one is actually compelling you to avoid turning around and looking at the entrance. Rather, you are free, and it so happens that this very freedom flows in through the same entrance.

Scientifically speaking.

Pardon me. We interrupted Schuon. Let him finish his thought before we return to Voegelin:

In the spatial world in which we live, every value is related in some way to a sacred Center, which is the place where Heaven has touched the earth; in every human world there is a place where God has manifested Himself in order to pour forth his grace.
Scientifically speaking. And "it is the same for the Origin, which is the quasi-timeless moment when Heaven was near." But since it is quasi-timeless, it is more accurate to say it is near, as per what was said above about the eshchatological Origin (which is Alpha and Omega) being available to us everynow. 

Indeed, it is ultimately what the now is, and why we have access to it. I won't remind you again that reason itself demands such a wonderstanding. Put it it this way: every now is, in a sense, the timeless Origin deployed in time.

Let's bring all this science down a few notches and express the same ideas in more colloquial terms. In fact, the chapter we're reviewing is called In Search of the Ground, from a lecture Voegelin delivered in 1965. It's a little less German than his dense and esoteric written texts, almost downright volksy. 

Again, this search for the Ground is "a constant in all civilizations," sub-civilizations, and even anti-civilizations such as ours (i.e., civilizations that either flee from the Ground or try to ban inquiry into it).

This quest is informed by two big -- some say the biggest -- questions that pretty much define man as man. Certainly no animal asks them, whereas we can't help asking them, whether implicitly or explicitly, and in rational or irrational ways. After all, supposing you have any answers at all, it's because you asked a question. Or should have, anyway.

Question the first: why is there something instead of nothing

Question the second: why is this something what it is instead of something different?

These questions sound innocent enough, nor is it irrational (to put it mildly) to ask them. "Guilt" only comes into play with cosmically pathological answers, or in mythological terms, Genesis 3 All Over Again. 

Of note, in the paragraph above we are using the term "mythological" in a strictly scientific sense. 

To jump ahead a bit, Voegelin defines it as any explanation (i.e., answer to our two questions) that takes a purely intra-world (i.e., immanent) form. Therefore, an immanent scientism is every bit as mythological as saying, for example, that the cosmos is formed out of the god Witoto having to take a leak. Ultimately, each is as absurd as the other.

Let us tackle question the first. It's somewhat of a trick question, because there is of course no cutandry answer, or rather, it is an answer God keeps to himself, even if he drops so many hints that in order to miss them, you must be living in a cave, for 

the ground from which things are what they are, and are at all, is a transcendent divine Ground; there is no answer except in the symbolisms of theology or of a myth or of a metaphysics of transcendent divine Being or something like that -- which does not render any simple propositions for knowing the matter.

Nevertheless -- and everthemore -- "The question itself"

implies its answer; because in raising this question the very nature of man who is in search of his ground expresses itself in questioning to the last point, or to the last resort, what is the ground of everything with regard to existence and essence. 

Expressed schematically, it would like something like this: (?????????????????????????...) --> (!):

In this questioning one keeps open one's human condition and is not tempted [heh] to find cheap answers.

Turns out these cheap answers are rather expensive, i.e., Genesis 3 All Over Again.

Above, Voegelin alludes to existence and essence, which go to questions one and two, respectively: first, that! something is, second, what? it is. Everything both is and is something. Obvious, but not self-explanatory. In other words, any intra-cosmic explanation for THAT and WHAT is a FAIL.

How do we know it is a FAIL?

We shall now undertake a Gagdankanexperiment to prove the point. 

You -- you there -- you're a rational being, are you not? You do things for a reason, and you also have reasons for what you believe. This is precisely what defines you as human, and distinguishes you from the tenured. Why did you this instead of that? Then just repeat the question, like so: (???????????????????????????????...).

Thus we are led into an indefinite regression in which the supposed end from which we started always becomes a means in another means-end relation, and that end a means for the next means-end relation.

Does it -- can it -- really just go on forever, with no (!) to the sequence?

Let's pause for now, and pick up the thread tomorrow. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

What in the World is the World?

We believe in many things we do not believe we believe. --Dávila 

Yesterday I read a couple chapters of Voegelin that were simultaneously -- as usual -- provocative and mystifying, often both at the same time. Does he write this way on purpose? Or is it just because he's German?

In any event, it set off a lot of secondary explosions. It's difficult to reverse engineer a bomb blast, but we'll try. 

Sometimes I think he's trying to provoke in real time what he's writing about; for example, in writing about the Ground of Being, he's trying to provoke in the reader a concrete experience of it. 

Experience. We'll come back to this, nor will we ever leave it, strictly speaking. As if that's even possible. 

Recursive. That's the word I'm looking for: a repeating process whose output at each stage is applied as input in the succeeding stage. In other words, he tosses the bomb into your head, and then you're reading the next bomb from the perspective of your bombed out head, etc.

To be honest, I try to do this a little, in that in a good post, the reader will be a slightly different person at the end than he was at the beginning, at which point he can return to the beginning a new man and reread it. I just try not to be so German about it.

Otherwise, what's the point? The world is drowning in information, so the last thing I want to do is cram more of it into your overstretched head. 

Now that I'm thinking about this unusual subject, Jesus must have been the last word in this sort of thing, no? In other words, with most everything he said, he must have been simultaneously evoking what he was talking about. And He who has ears, let him hear.  

I guess the problem is -- insofar as communication is concerned -- if we're going to dive into the Ground of Being, it is, among other things, the very place from which language emanates. 

Which reminds me of what C.S. Lewis said about his longing "to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from -- my country, the place where I ought to have been born." 

Must be the same place all the truth comes from, or at least a mansion on the same street. And both must look like explosions from the outside. 

Just as, I suppose, the big bang must have looked like an explosion from the outside, even though, from the inside -- or so I am told -- it was an exquisitely fine-tuned exercise in higher physics. [Extra credut: Ixnay on the reatio ex nihilo cay, it's a scientific blastferme & you, agape in their beloved theory.] 

I'm a little busy. Will there be a post this morning, or just more of the above?

As if there could even be an above without a below! 

Perhaps it's best to begin with a concrete example, so you can be as mystified as I am. We begin at the beginning -- or at least with one of two possible ends of this thing -- with 

the meaning of the term world. It presents extraordinary difficulties to philosophical analysis. 

Therefore, if I ask you what the world is, and you give me some quick and readymade answer, that is already proof -- scientific proof, I might add -- that you are quite wrong, since the man just told us that the question presents extraordinary difficulties.

Like I said: recursive. But we are not alone. Good morning, Nicolás! Whaddya got for us?

As long as we can respond without hesitating we do not know the subject.

Whoever is curious to measure his stupidity should count the number of things that seem obvious to him. 

Only the fool knows clearly why he believes or why he doubts. 

The honest philosophy does not pretend to explain but to circumscribe the mystery.

There are types of ignorance that enrich the mind and types of knowledge that impoverish it. 

I repeat: what is the world?

I know! I don't know?

Correct, You have no idea. Yet. In fact, you've never really thought about it, have you? I mean literally: what in the world is the world?

Good question. Is there an answer? Yes, but this may be one of those cases in which a good question is superior to any answer we could provide. At least a wideawake & cutandry one. To paraphrase Schuon, there is more Light in a good question than in some rote answer we can give.

The modern man only admits the evidence that the vulgar perceive.

In order to abolish all mystery, it is enough to view the world with the eyes of a pig.

Mmm, bacon... 

So, let's look into this question and try not to be foolish and vulgar pigs about it.

First of all, the word is equivocal, in that it has several meanings, but certain ones presuppose other meanings. Curse your cursed recursiveness!

We won't review all the dictionary definitions, nor even add them all up, because that still won't = The World -- at least the World we're talking about -- obviously.

There seems to be alive in [these definitions] a desire to express linguistically a substantive order pervading all levels of being as well as being as a whole.... The difference can be more easily sensed than described.

Please try anyway. But do try not to be so damn German.

In the ancient [conception], the accent lies more on the visible and external, on the cosmic order in a preeminent sense; in the Christian [conception], it lies on the internal order of man. 

So, "two orders," cosmic-exterior and human-interior? Something like that? These "differences in meaning" appear to

reflect the actual historical process in which the experience of human existence under a world-transcendent God has differentiated from the primary, more compact experience of existence in a cosmos that includes both gods and men.

Here we need to pull back and reconsider and reflect upon the nature of science itself, because it goes to a much larger area of intelligibility than the restricted scope of mere scientism (which is retrograde to the core, a porcine devolution from Judeo-Christian world-historical insight into the World).

Looked at this way, Christianity involves strictly scientific discoveries about the nature of The World, something, come to think of it, that Chesterton discusses in The Everlasting Man.

But we're waaaay up here (pant pant), and I don't have time to climb back down and fetch the book. In general, we're talking about a scientific and/or more than scientific

advance toward the differentiated experience of transcendent Being in order to establish explicitly the insight that the order of the world is not of "this world" alone but also of the "world beyond."

So, any definition of this world must include the world beyond that is its ground? Or something? 

Good question. We'll try to scale it again in the next post.   

When the authentic mystery is eclipsed, humanity becomes drunk on imbecilic mysteries.

Monday, July 10, 2023

Sensibility, Taste, and Soul Stench

Sympathy and antipathy are the antennae of intelligence. Intelligence investigates the causes of what repels or attracts. 

The dividing line between two eras is a mutation of the sensibility. --Dávila 
Well, I woke up this morning thinking about the subject of sensibility, which in a way is everything, but what is it, exactly? 

I'm going to say that it is very much like what sense is to the sensible -- the empirical -- only in relation to concrete transcendent realities. Like the perception of beauty, it is an adequation to the object. 

If this is true -- and it is -- then many people have no sensibility at all, or rather, it is submerged into something less. 

Which explains why such vulgarians don't have "poor" taste, but rather, no taste at all. Obviously we are surrounded by such tasteless manimals. It is the oppressive (anti)sensibility of our barbarous progressive age.

Not only is it possible to reject leftism on purely aesthetic grounds, it is necessary, because such institutionalized ugliness cannot possibly be true. Which is why

Only those who secretly propagate the admiration of beauty conspire effectively against today's world.

Time out for some more aphoristic zingers, but note that the zingers zing because they come from a similar sensibility to yours and mine; each of them speaks to an experiential truth, but is embedded in an even deeper sensibility:

To know what feeds us in Christianity, it is enough to feel what chokes us.
After a few minutes of chatting few people leave more than a squeezed pulp. 
Today not to protest against what is wretched is called “having common sense.” 
The secular importance of religion lies less in its influence on our conduct than on the noble sonorousness with which it enriches the soul.

When religion is at ebb tide the stench of souls spreads.  

 Each suppressed taboo makes human existence recede toward the dullness of instinct.

Marxism frees the uneducated from cultural oppression by putting a coherent and catchy vocabulary at the service of his lack of culture. 
Tedium is the trace of vanished transcendence. 
We are only compatriots of those who share with us the same repertoire of references. 
The two terms of the democratic alternative today -- oppressive bureaucracy or repugnant plutocracy -- are canceling each other out. Combining into a single term: opulent bureaucracy. At once repugnant and oppressive. 
Having taste is enough to qualify one as a puritan.

Taste. Interesting word, because it borrows from the world of the five senses, but only in an analogous way; the same with vision and touch -- as when we are touched by what is, strictly speaking, untouchable; or rather, touched by something in the sensible that cannot be reduced to the empirical plane. 

Now, the average tenured, or journalistic, or "artistic" utensil is a utensil precisely because he has no sensibility that hasn't been dictated to him by Big Sensibility.

I just googled sensibility, and the first thing that comes up is "an understanding of or ability to decide about what is good or valuable, especially in connection with artistic or social activities."

According to Big Webster, it is "a capacity of emotion or feeling as distinguished from intellect and will," but this won't do, since we are definitely thinking about "intellectual sensibility," not to mention "spiritual sensibility." Indeed, what is spirituality but a sensitivity to the spiritual?

Now, spirituality at once escapes the senses, but then again, not at all. Obviously. For

The more vivid and intense our perception of what is visible, the better we sense the reality of what is invisible.

And as for intelligent sensibility,

The requisites for seeing with intelligence interest me even more than what we see.

That's about it for now. But hey, where is everybody?

Posterity is a dinner with a few guests. With a few hosts.

Sunday, July 09, 2023

The Greatest Kindness, the Highest Perfection, and the Final Happiness

A summary of where we are so far -- and, come to think of it, where we will always be -- in our metacosmic peripatetics, AKA wondering in the bewilderness (the pneumaticons are mine, of course):

The truth of man [ʘ]and the truth of God [O] are inseparably one. Man will be in the truth of his existence when he has opened [o] his psyche to the truth of God; and the truth of God will become manifest in history [↓] when it has formed the psyche of man into receptivity for the unseen measure.

Notice that grace is already required in order to be receptive to the grace, or, as they say, even the seeking of God is already the finding. 

A little bit, anyway. The first discovery is the psyche, AKA "the sensorium of transcendence," an act Voegelin calls apperception (in contrast to perception, which is of the external world and its objects).

But many people just ignore apperception and its implications, which causes problems, and I mean big ones. We'll get to these, but let's proceed in an orderly fashion. The subject is tricksy enough without jumping around all over the place.

Which reminds me: at this point, why do you blog, anyway, Bob? Two reasons: for the verticalisthenics and gymgnostics, i.e., because it's a little difficult, and naturally I want to keep the mind limber. 

The second reason is a little embarrassing, but I'm just a helpful guy, and I like to pass along anything I find useful on this endless journey between immanence and transcendence. 

To paraphrase Captain Beefheart, where I found it, it didn't cost me a thing, so why not give it back? I'm no Aquinas, but as far as I know, he didn't charge outrageous prices for books and seminars, but rather, was motivated by this:

The greatest kindness one can render to any man consists in leading him from error to truth. 

So mother was right: I am a kind man. Supposing, of course, it is truth I am passing along. If it's not, then it follows that I am doing a great cruelty to my fellow man. Hence my caution in passing it along. 

Oh, I guess there's a third reason, in that some day, after I'm gone, my son will have complete access to my head, supposing he's interested -- so far almost 18 solid years worth of blogviating, for what it's worth. 

I like to think we've made a little progress since October 2005, even though we're right were we started, which is to say, right here in the sensorium of transcendence between O and (¶), just downloading it as it becomes unveilable. 

That quote by Thomas is from a little compilation by Josef Pieper called The Human Wisdom of St. Thomas, and let me extract a few more relevant nuggets of h. w. from its pages; this first is from Pieper's preface, which sounds very Voegelinian:

the boundary between order and mystery passes through this world itself.

Sure does. Not only is it as free as the air, but

The least insight that one can obtain into sublime things is more desirable than the most certain knowledge of lower things (Thomas).

Yes, it's priceless, for which reason we cannot imagine monetizing it!

The complete perfection of the universe demands that there should be created natures which return to God.

Which implies that the universe isn't actually a static noun, but rather, an active verb; it is "universing," so to speak, back to its own source and ground. I could say a lot more about this, or rather, brother Nicolás could, but let's stick with Thomas for now:

The lowest member of a higher class of beings is always found in contact with the highest member of a lower class.

Vertically speaking, this is a full employment cosmos, so, low class apes to the south of us, classy angels to the north, and

The Divine Wisdom joins the last of the higher kind with the first of the lower kind.

Thus the eternal question, Who, haloed be his gnome, loiters on the threshold of the transdimensional doorway, looking for handouts from Petey?


it comes to pass that the intellectual soul is said to be like the horizon or boundary line between corporeal and incorporeal substance...

What's it all about, after all is zed and punned?

the last end of the universe must necessarily be the good of the intellect. This, however, is truth. Hence truth must be the last end of the whole universe.

And the greatest kindness we can render is to lead someone to this truth. Which, BTW, is a Person, of course. Moreover, "The further a being is distant" from this Being, "the nearer it is to nothingness." So, Pricelessness at one end, Worthlessness at the other. The Last Word:

the final happiness of man consists in this -- that in his soul is reflected the order of the whole universe.

Is this happiness possible? Of course it's possible:

it is possible for the perfection of the whole universe to have its existence in one single being. 

I know of a single being in whom the perfection of the whole universe is reflected. Or at least my mind is open (o) to this fleshlight:

The intellectual light dwelling in us is nothing else than a kind of participated image of the uncreated light in which the eternal ideas are contained.

The same eternal Light that plunges an undying fire into its own shadow and falls in love with the productions of time. He expectorated a mirrorcle, now you're the spittin' image!


Each single being is perfect in the measure in which it reaches up to its own origin.


The highest perfection of human life consists in the mind being open to God.... Hence the last end of the creature endowed with a spiritual intellect is to see God in his essence.

A perfect circle, no less:

The last end is the first principle of being.... when the first cause in which all else can be known is reached, the quest of spirit comes to an end.

You'll be the first to know when we get there. Meanwhile, back to Voegelin:

The soul orients itself toward a God who rests in his immovable transcendence; it reaches out to divine reality [↑], but does not meet an answering movement from beyond [↓].


 But we're in luck: "The experience of mutuality in the relation with God,"

of the grace that imposes a supernatural form on the nature of man, is the specific difference of Christian truth.

You can call this difference a breakthrough, a discovery, a differentiation, a grace, a lucky break, a vertical hand-out and hand-up, a great kindness, but whatever it is, 

The revelation of this grace in history, through the incarnation of the Logos in Christ, intelligibly fulfilled the adventitious movement of the spirit in the mystic philosophers....

The critical authority over the older truth of society that the soul had gained through its opening and its orientation toward the unseen measure was now confirmed through the revelation of the measure itself.  

Confirmed: God becomes man that man might become God(like). But whew, I'm out of breath -- not due to the exertion, but the altitude. Who can breathe up here if someone isn't re-suscitating and in-spiring us?

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