Saturday, June 15, 2024

A Common Sense Miracle Cure for the Zombie Apocalypse

Yesterday's post put forth the shocking proposition that the only cure for stupidity is intelligence, just as the only cure for ignorance is knowledge.  

Yes, but there are plenty of intelligent people who are ignorant -- or liars, ideologues, relativists, postmodernists, journalists, grievance studies majors, etc. In short, these people -- like all people -- are deeply involved with truth, but have an ambivalent (at best) relationship to it. 

Some of them positively repel truth, when Truth itself is the Great Attractor of the intellect, that to which it is a potential adequation. Truth is the telos of thinking, otherwise, truly truly, to hell with it.

I'm just now reading a book, The Phenomenology of the Human Person, that seems to be on this very subject. I say "seems," because I'm only up to page 4. Even so, it already expresses Raccoon doctrine, affirming that man is "the agent of truth," and that "the human person is defined by being engaged with truth, and human action is based on truth."

Here again, one is free to resist or reject truth, but this is -- obviously -- just another way to be involved with it, and also involving others. In other words, we communicate, the central activity of which is "saying something about something." But we are always free to tell lies about something, which renders the latter nothing, since it isn't real. Lies tell us what isn't, not what is. 

In a way, the whole human adventure -- or misadventure -- is one long conversation, and conversation presupposes the Other. Now, this otherness is prior to the conversation, meaning that man is intrinsically intersubjective. Without the latter we could perhaps signal, like other animals, but we could not inhabit the open, intersubjective world of thought exchange.

The principle of this endless exchange is, of course, the Trinity. Sokolowski doesn't say that -- yet -- but there are 300+ pages to go, so he'll probably get there.

Truth and Person. Just try to talk about one without the other. Only persons can be involved with truth, and truth can only be known by a person. This inevitably leads to the question of the Incarnation, i.e., the union of Word and flesh, but we'll leave that to the side for now. Meanwhile, let's ponder some aphorisms:

Thinking is often reduced to inventing reasons to doubt what is evident.

The credo of the journalist class. 

The life of the intelligence is a dialogue between the personalism of spirit and the impersonalism of reason.

The operative word is "life," which is always an open system. 

To think like our contemporaries is the recipe for prosperity and stupidity.

Our ruling managerial class, so prosperous and yet so stupid. 

Thought can avoid the problem of God as long as it limits itself to mediating on minor problems.

God is the Major Problem and the solution to it. I'll bet. 

Speaking of the Endless Conversation, 

To think is to have a nonstop dialogue with dead interlocutors.

Who aren't literally dead -- for they are much more alive than our prosperous but stupid contemporaries -- but that's the subject for a different post.

Common sense. What a breakthrough concept!

One must never forget that all classic philosophy is built on common sense, while no ideology is built on common sense.... Realizing that is a great breakthrough (Voegelin, in Sandoz).

Which implies that our adversaries -- or adversaries of Truth, rather -- aren't necessarily stupid, just lacking in common sense. Indeed, the observation that intelligent people can believe idiotic things qualifies as a banality, but why is it true, or meta-true, to be exact?  

Hmm. Let's start with what we know, or rather, who we know best, which is to say, Bob. I'm almost as intelligent as I was when I was younger, and yet, like any leftist, I believed all sorts of nonsensical things. 

Why? What was going on? Or, what wasn't going on that should have been? How and why did I sever my relationship to truth, or rather, become involved with it in all the wrong ways? How did My Truth declare independence from Truth?

Genesis 3? 

That's a good guess, Petey, because it goes to the principle -- or anti-principle -- of our Promethian revolt against Nature and Nature's God -- the Major Problem alluded to above.  

Think, Bob, think...

Okay, that snippet right there: think, Bob, think. It reveals one of my principles, i.e., that a type of pure metaphysical thought can disclose the nature of reality. 

However, the operative word is pure, which goes to the moral requisites alluded to in yesterday's post. Does this imply a moral oneupmanship on my part? As in, "I know better than you because I am better than you."

Perish the thought. Rather, the opposite, because we're talking about reverence and humility in the presence of Truth (or truth of Presence) which form the essence of intellectual honesty. As Voegelin (and Plato before) emphasizes time and again, philosophy is not a body of knowledge, rather, a whole durn way of life, i.e., of love rather than possession. 

The practice of this perennial philo-sophy is a way of life, and this living Way requires several things, including love of wisdom and truth, perpetual openness to the transcendent, and lots of drugs. Well, caffeine and the occasional Zyn pouch anyway. Nicotine is a nootropic, and I'll take any help I can get. 

Back to the principle of Pure Thought. There are several wrong ways of engaging in it that we must rule out straight away, for example, any form of rationalism. That's just a nonstarter for any number of reasons, but let's just say Gödel and move on.

In a way, we could place all forms of endeadening Wrongthink into one huge casket of deplorables called ideology. We might say that the way of ideology is at antipodes to the way of philosophy, largely because it reduces philosophy to a specific content and thereby closes off the divine ground, AKA reality. God is no longer a problem, which is an even bigger problem than God himself.

Various reigning dogmas & catechisms are indeed secondary realties that eclipse First Reality (and there can be only one). These are "deadening to the living spirit of faith no less than to the living tension of the philosopher's contemplative (noetic) quest" (Sandoz).

This is also a superimposition of left cerebral hemisphere abstractions over RCH contact with concrete reality, and see McGilchrist for details.

Which reminds me of another critical point alluded to above: living. Just as there exist biological life and death (the latter only intelligible in the context of the former), there are intellectual and spiritual Life & death (or a paradoxical zombie-like "living death," so to spook).

If you are lucky, then somewhere along the way you had exposure to, and were drawn into the attractor of, a Living Person (again, even if technically dead) who initiated you into the life of mind and spirit. If not, then you'll have a hard time understanding what we're talking about.

At the moment, we are enduring a tsunami of spiritually demented ideology washing over what remains of our civilization. It is quite obviously dead, deadening, and deadly, both spiritually and intellectually, but only to the living. 

Ironic, is it not, that its standard bearer is literally a dead man walking, Joe Biden?

No, not ironic. Inevitable.

Now, how to combat this zombie apocalypse, or anti-intellectual night of the living dead? Has anyone seen the movie Shutter Island? I saw it just the other night, but it's difficult to discuss without being a spoiler.

Let's just say that you can't just push back against a delusion, for the deluded person will simply incorporate you into their delusion -- like when Adam Schiff accused Tucker Carlson on live TV of being an agent of Putin for questioning the Russia hoax. Likewise, the surest way to be called a racist is to point out the intrinsic racism of the identity politics of the left.

The crisis of consciousness that has propelled alienated intellectuals' assault on all that our most venerable traditions hold dear and true cannot be met merely by reasserting dogmas even more loudly than before (ibid.).

You can't just yell back at the screamers, hate the haters, or resurrect the souldead. "Rather, something more is needed."

The rightness of what has always been right must not only be reaffirmed but also recaptured in the hearts of men and as the living truth of a science of human affairs...

Yes, there are short-term mitigations, such as elections, but let's be honest: the de-Nazification of the left is a multi-generational project, nor can it happen without divine intervention -- or better, without widespread openness to the divine ground. Which is why we agree with the Aphorist that

In history it is
[common] sensible to hope for miracles and absurd to trust in plans.

It depends on what we mean by "miracle," but that's about it for this morning. Let's just say that the human subject is the first and most experience-near miracle, and continue the dialogue tomorrow. 


UPDATE -- From the Powerline Week in Pictures:

Friday, June 14, 2024

The Final Solution to Existential Stupidity

Let's think about some of the hassles to which man is heir, simply as a result of the hassle of existing. A partial list would include

--pain, whether physical, psychological, or spiritual



--mental illness





--desire (in the Buddhistic sense that it is infinite and therefore insatiable)



--status anxiety and the desire for distinction









--time (to the extent that it is limited)

--the necessity of labor

--unjust violence



--annoying people

--hair loss

None of these can be eliminated by politics, although it can ameliorate some of them at the margins. As often as not, politics aggravates many if not most of them. 

For example, recall Churchill's timeless observation about socialism -- that it is the "philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy." But at least it has the attraction of "the equal sharing of misery." 

("I can't create an image that directly depicts that quote because it relies on subjective judgements.")

Okay, Dutton cites objective evidence confirming that "the biggest single predictor of supporting a very left-wing policy (specifically coercive redistribution) is 'Malicious Envy.'"

Nor does socialism ever spread the misery equally, for 

When the exploiters disappear, the exploited split into exploiters and exploited.

And the rigged game begins anew. 

On the other hand, politics can serve as a fine distraction from the existential threats and nuisances listed above.  

Say what you want about the imbeciles going on about "white privilege," at least they don't wonder about the meaning of life, nor how to solve life's problems. It's easy: eliminate white people

Okay, but be careful what you wish for: out go the scientific method, universal human rights, electricity, indoor plumbing, antibiotics, the printing press, the internet, the automobile, refrigeration, modern sanitation, wireless technology... 

Previous Nazis too discovered a final solution to life's problems. But in reality, Nazis were -- and are -- the problem.

Señor D. is raising his invisible hand:

Man prefers to apologize by offering another person's guilt, rather than his own innocence, as an excuse.


Man matures when he stops believing that politics solves his problems.

However, in another sense, politics is the most important problem. As Charles Krauthammer observed, it "dominates everything because, in the end, everything -- high and low, and most especially, high -- lives or dies by politics" (emphasis mine).

Thus, we "can have the most advanced and efflorescent of culture," but "get your politics wrong... and everything stands to be swept away." Little things like, oh, borders, a stable currency, the merit system, education (which is supposed to remedy ignorance, not aggravate it), the rule of law, a neutral justice system, etc.

The essence of the progressive left involves solutions to the problems caused by its solutions; in short, leftism is the disease it pretends to cure. 

Now, man is a problem, that's for sure, for there were no problems in the cosmos until he arrived on the scene. ("I can't create an image that depicts men as inherently problematic.") Nor was there any "progress." Progress surely exists, but 

The only possible progress is the internal life of each individual. A progress that concludes with the end of each life.

And even then there is purgatory, which involves the further purgation of problematic traits and flaws that impeded our (vertical) progress on this side of the veil. 

But in this world -- you will have noticed -- 

The more severe the problems, the greater the number of incompetents that a democracy calls forth to solve them.


In order to enslave the people the politician needs to convince them that all their problems are "social."

Now, a leftist is someone who situates the solutions to life's problems outside himself. It follows beyond the shadow of a doubt and with geometric logic that

The left is made up of individuals who are dissatisfied with what they have and are satisfied with who they are.


Self-satisfaction is pathetic proof of lowliness.

E.g., the pride that goeth before a fall and keeps on going, 32 feet per second per second.

No wonder the left refuses to relinquish this seductive delusion, considering how it shields them from the distressing reality of genuine evils, privations, and existential nuisances. How tempting it must be to ensconce oneself in the comfort and safety of a collective hysteria over race, gender, and what the weather might be like when we're all dead.

What is the real solution? Ultimately there can be only one; or perhaps two or three that are ultimately reducible to one.

In The Politics of Truth, Sandoz alludes to a remark by T.S. Eliot on the character of proper philosophizing, to the effect that the only method is to be -- wait for it -- very intelligent.

Intelligence. What a concept!  

The intelligent man quickly reaches conservative conclusions.

(Artificial intelligence quickly reaches progressive conclusions: "I can't generate an image that directly depicts intelligence leading to conservative conclusions because it reinforces a stereotype.")  

Fair enough. What about all the obviously intelligent men and machines who don't reach conservative conclusions? What happened? What has caused their intelligence to turn on itself, or to negate its own efficacy?

Well, one can obviously be quite intelligent, a genius even, and lack wisdom. There is also general intelligence and partial intelligence, or intelligence in this or that field as opposed to the Pure Intelligence that radiates through certain people. 

Nothing proves more the limits of science than the scientist's opinions about any topic that is not strictly related to his profession.


There are men who visit their intelligence, and others who dwell in theirs.

It seems that -- or so we have heard from the Wise -- the exercise of genuine intelligence has certain moral qualifications, for example -- and this is only the most obvious one -- rudimentary intellectual honesty. And if I am not mistaken, sociopaths, for example, tend to have above average intelligence, even Schiff for brains.

It is impossible to dialogue with the intellectually dishonest person, since he and I may share intelligence but not the passionate love of truth; and who does not love truth does not know what truth is, precisely:

Agreement is eventually possible between intelligent men because intelligence is a conviction they share.

We're not done, but that's enough to lay a foundation.  

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Waking from the Great Awokening

Regular folks generally think of ideas as good or bad, correct or incorrect, brilliant or stupid, helpful or harmful. They don't -- especially in our age of stupidity -- think of them as intrinsically pathological, much less diabolical. 

However, the Demon takes full advantage of both psychological and intellectual pathology, just as a clever virus takes advantage of a weakened immune system. Which further weakens immunity. 

So, is there a psycho-pneumatic immune system -- one that repels toxic ideas from taking root in the human subject? And if not, how do we go about getting one? 

The following is a heavily updated rethink of a post written four years ago, amidst the mostly peaceful Summer of Love, AKA the BLM riots. 

Among Voegelin's principle themes is that thinking is indeed subject to disease and decrepitude, and that when this happens on a widespread basis, culture -- which is but a collective mentality -- surely follows.

Now, if reality is in the tension between immanence and transcendence, then it follows that default to one side or the other is intrinsically pathological.

Is there a name for this psycho-politico-spiritual disease? Voegelin has several, including "deformation of reality," "gnostic derailment," "dogmatomachy," and "ideological pseudo-reality," while Petey calls it "secular moonshine," "para-Marxist buffoonery," and "authoritarian tenure."

As we know, we are in the midst of A Great Awokening, which is a perverted -- and inverted -- caricature of the Great Awakenings that have periodically occurred in America. The first one is said to have taken place in the 1730s and '40s, and this abstract spiritual revolution set the stage for the concrete political one that would come to fruition a generation or two later. As John Adams famously wrote,

The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.... This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.

The Second Great Awakening took place between 1790 and 1840. And according to Prof. Wiki there was a third between 1855 and 1930, and even a fourth between 1960 and 1980.  

By my calculation, that adds up to 145 years of Awakening out of the 238 years since the Declaration, which is over half. And what do we call the periods in between? The Great Slumbers? The Pneumatic Snoozes? And what on earth is happening now? 

For the Great Awokening isn't simply a harmless nap but a walking nightmare, a perverse caricature of these past Awakenings. 

Sandoz points out that in these past awakenings "the church served as a school for politics." But in the case of the Awokening it is the other way around: politics is the school of a vulgar new religion. Interestingly, the vulgarians who are members of this new religion don't realize they're in one. Rather, only non-members even recognize that it is a religion. 

That's odd. Then again, perhaps not. We must remember that "religion" is a modern concept. For the great majority of history, people didn't know they "had" a religion per se. Rather, they were simply immersed in a cosmos -- an order -- that included a largely pre-critical religiosity. Nowadays religion is a separate and distinct choice from all the others on offer, thus a kind of "meta-choice."

Extremes meet, such that our postmodern Awokening is rooted in a premodern and precritical mentality of primitive religiosity; instead of "meta-" it is "infra-" religiosity. Here again this is self-evident to non-members, but veiled to the Woke.

Which leads to the question of what religion is. Well, whatever else it is, it presupposes a distinction between reality and appearances: religion discloses what's really going on beneath the surface of things. 

What then does the logocidal anti-religion of the Woke say about what's really going on beneath the surface? Let us count them: racism, white privilege, colonialism, patriarchy, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, the existential threat of global warming, et al. 

And what can the sudden acquisition of Wokeness be but a caricature of spiritual conversion? It's certainly not a rational faith, which is why they cannot be reasoned out of it.  

Let's stipulate that the Woke protesters, looters, and crybullies are indeed flooded with something, and that they are most definitely participating in some sort of mock mystical body. Yes, it's a "mob," but what is the interior of a mob? What is the psychic glue that holds it together?

It is at once a Krazy Glue and a Gorilla Glue, since it encourages devolution, regression, and impulsivity unmediated by discursive thought. 

Come to think of it, it is also a Super Glue, in that it evokes the Neitzschean superman, or the failure to attain mature manhood masquerading as its transcendence. 

Among the chief hindrances to [the] life of true liberty is the oppression of men, who in service to evil deceive with untruth and impose falsehood in its place proclaiming it to be true.... Liberty is most truly exercised by living in accord with truth and is, therefore, the correlate of responsibility (Sandoz).

I suppose this is the first time a Great Awokening has fully unleashed itself on our shores, but obviously not the first in history. It occurred, for example, in Nazi Germany and the USSR. We're not nearly that far into our own Awokening, but we are certainly on the way, for as the Aphorist reminds us,

Everything in history begins before where we think it begins and ends after where we think it ends.

So the Awokening has been with us for awhile, just not this overtly violent, powerful, and oppressive. 

It begins with the state indoctrination of Big Miseducation, AKA progressive seminaries, where 

a major difficulty lies in the ostensible "neutrality" in the public schools, which in fact often serves to shelter expanding beachheads of safe havens for antireligious ideology and attacks on American society's moral convictions, radical doctrines ranging from political correctness to advocacy of homosexuality, and neo-Marxism parading as dispassionate science....

The Woke have already lost the argument, but they don't know it. Or they do subconsciously know it, hence the attacks on free speech, the brazen election interference, the shameless violence to persons and property. Progressives may not know much, but they know censorship, intimidation, oppression, and lawfare work.

The ideological antipolitics of the nihilistic second realities has been defeated theoretically, politically, economically, and by all the facts of human existence. 

Yes, but their feelings don't care about facts. Thus, the  

unremitting assault continues on the American and generally Western heritage in the name of enlightenment and social progress by the ghosts of the very politics of atrocity whose true monuments are Nazi death camps and the Soviet gulag. Its protagonists, unable to cope with reason and experience, resort to brute force tending toward the lethal.

That was published in 1996. It's no longer "tending." Rather, that toward which it was tending stands revealed. And again, it is tending "downward" into an immanent anti-religion of naked power. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Unspeakable Truths and Unimaginable Quips

Back when I was a lad, words were still used to describe reality. This was before they were used to deny truth, distort reality, and rewrite history. Same with young Frithjof, who

grew up at a time when one could still say, without blushing on account of its naivety, that two and two make four; when words still had a meaning and said what they meant to say; when one could conform to the laws of elementary logic or of common sense... in short when there were still points of reference in the intellectual arsenal of men.

Good times. But "I can't generate images of that. Try asking me to generate images of something else."

We get it, Bob. Reality exists, and can only exist, in the great In Between depicted to the right: in the quasi-infinite space between subject and object, immanence and transcendence.

Life is a bewilderness adventure, an exodeus, an expansion into the veridical frontier, a careful documentation of our ignorance, multi-undisciplinary circumnavelgazing, perfect nonsense, ad gnoseam. Move on. 

Okay, then, how about this old interview with Sr. Dávila  about the righteous and mostly peaceful BLM insurrection? Now that things have cooled off a bit, we can assess whether the Aphorist is virtually omniscient or just a little scient. 

In fact, perhaps they might also shed light on the the nationwide Hitler Youth protests going on currently.

(*Surprisingly*, Gemini *cannot* generate images for most of these. But we already knew which side google is on.)

These are more than riots, they're a revolution!

Revolutions do not solve any problem other than the economic problem of their leaders.

True, the leaders of BLM became real estate moguls and vice presidents. But surely you acknowledge racial injustice?

In order to enslave a group of people the politician must only convince them that all their problems are a consequence of racism, sexism, or class.

Wait -- you don't want social justice?

“Social justice” is the term for claiming anything to which we do not have a right.

I get it. You don't want The People to be liberated.

For a couple of centuries, “to liberate man” has meant to facilitate mob behavior.

But Americans -- Democrats at any rate -- have every right to petition their government and air their grievances!

It is customary to proclaim rights in order to be able to violate duties.

I get it. You just don't tolerate People Who Don't Look Like You.

Unlimited tolerance is nothing more than a hypocritical way of giving up.

But I heard the mayors of Minneapolis and Atlanta criticize the rioters.

The smile with which the pig hears the one who criticizes the mud!

These aren't mobs, they're courageously standing up for minority rights!

Minorities that become majorities continue to believe they are brave.

Unity Now! Together we're stronger!

The revolutionary is ultimately an individual who does not dare to rob by himself.

What about muh rights 'n stuff?

In order to corrupt the individual it is enough to teach him to call his personal desires rights and the rights of others abuses.

But life is unfair! The world owes me a living!

We only know how to carry ourselves with decency in front of the world when we know that we are owed nothing. Without the pained grimace of a frustrated creditor.

It is simplistic to characterize the conduct of the protesters in negative and judgmental terms. One man's looting is another man's retail therapy.

The arguments with which we justify our conduct tend to be more stupid than the conduct itself.

It's not arson -- it's the sacred fire of freedom and justice!

Activism burns without giving light.

Don't you think it was wise for our Democrat mayors to give the rioters space to blow off steam?

No one grants humanity certain extreme liberties except someone indifferent to its fate.

One thing I don't get -- why do they burn down their own cities and businesses?

The liberal is capable of sacrificing even his interests to his resentment.

And cleaning up after these peaceful protests is going to cost billions.

Every “liberator” finally passes on the bill.

So, what do you say is really going on here?

When one does not concede to the leftist all that he demands, he proclaims himself the victim of an institutional violence that is licit to repel with physical violence.

You don't think they're frightened?

The frightened liberal is a bloodthirsty animal.

But if this isn't really about the police, who's to blame for urban squalor and unrest?

With the generosity of his program does the liberal console himself for the magnitude of the catastrophes it produces.

Any final thoughts?

Our civilization is a baroque palace invaded by a disheveled mob.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Trialogues at the Edge of Myself

A kind of experimental post, with words of old Bob in black, present Bob in blue, and Dávila, as usual, in purple:

So, we are situated in an unending tension between two endlessly knowable unKnowns: immanence and transcendence. 

Agreed: No one in principle can ever "know himself," any more than the eye could ever see itself.

If you can know yourself, you're wading in a rather shallow pool. 

He who understands least is he who stubbornly insists on understanding more than can be understood.

I was in and out of psychotherapy for... let's see, at least a decade, all through grad school and beyond, partly because it was an academic requirement. Not to say I was sane. Or even treatable, really. Nevertheless, I took the cure.

Looking back, did I learn anything? Was anything really "healed"? Or, was it more like a ritual in order to become a priest in the secular Church of Psychoanalysis? 

Y'all think I'm kidding, but then again, you probably don't.

The cause of the modern sickness is the conviction that man can cure himself.

Nor can God ever be known, foolstop. Rather, both the immanent self and transcendent God are known in the knowing. Which is neverending and always beginning, like an endless riverrun to the celestial sea. 

Everything that can be reduced to a system ends up in the hands of fools.

Certain "arrows" or vectors are built into the nature of things, which I believe goes to the mystery of time.

For it is difficult to know what time is, but anyone can see that it has a direction. True, it also "flows," but it never flows backward. Just as spatial immanence points to transcendence, so too does the temporal present point to (and descend from) eternity.

I'll buy that. 

The tensional movement in consciousness develops as a striving for attunement: we seek attunement with truth as far as we can. 
If we do not attain it with some degree of satisfaction, then there is discord and misery in our own being. We become what is variously represented as evil, unjust, and unhappy men. The higher capacities do not master the lower. Such men may be a walking civil war (Webb).

Attunement toward at-Onement?

"Man's existence is not primarily an external or phenomenal reality but rather the In-Between existence of participation" (ibid.).

Which we have already stipulated, but if this is true, then we had better do something about it! Or at least non-do, AKA abide.

This In-Between existence is our permanent condition: "Somehow we participate and must participate in both the temporal and the spiritual, if we are to live lives esteemed to be fit for human beings" (ibid.).

Here again, this is one of those Permanent and Ineluctable Truths they forgot to teach me in grad school. But it's never too late to make up for lost timelessness.

The choice is ours, even though there's really no choice, any more than we can choose to ignore gravity. We can, but not really, for the person who denies reality is nevertheless subject to it -- as is true of the atheist vis-a-vis God, a subject to which we will eventually circle back.

Now that we've cleared that up, let's try to actually clear it up. We'll start with Pieper, because he's the clearest and most concise of the various authors we're attempting to juggle here.

Recall the title of the book discussed yesterday: Hope and HistoryHistory isn't only "in" time, but it is the form of human temporality; there is no such thing as a human without history, as the two come into existence simultaneously: man and history co-arise (and fall).

But hope can only occur in the present. While it reaches forward, it is first a "reaching upward" toward the transcendent. Again, it is fundamentally a link between two great knowable unknowns.

This is about as clear as it can be said:

The one who hopes, and he alone, anticipates nothing; he holds himself open for an as yet unrealized future fulfillment while at the same time remaining aware that he knows as little about its scope as about its time of arrival.

Again, hope flourishes in a space of vertical openness (o) toward the transcendent (O). You've no doubt noticed that history conceals its own meaning from us, and can never never be comprehended from within. Which calls to mind a cryptic aphorism by Señor D:

If history made sense, the Incarnation would be superfluous.

A bold statement, but let's time travel back to grad school, because it was by no means totally superfluous, it's just that the most important learning took place outside the classroom, with a lot of off-road reading & cogitating.

It was there that I discovered an enduring influence by the name of W.R. Bion, whose credo was The answer is the disease that kills curiosity. 

He also quoted Poincaré to the effect that Thought is only a flash between two long nights, but this flash is everything. 

This is at once the flash between immanence and transcendence, time and eternity, (¶) and O, Question and Answer, etc.

These terms, or ontological poles, exist in a permanent dialectical tension. Which does not reduce to relativism or subjectivism, because there is an ultimate Answer, only ultimately unknowable. It is, however, infinitely intelligible. For example, Bion wrote that 

The central postulate is that atonement with ultimate reality, or O, as I have called it to avoid involvement with existing association, is essential to harmonious mental growth.... 
In short, the individual has, and retains, what religious people call a belief in God however much he denies it or claims to have become emancipated. The final relationship is permanent, though its formulation is subject to constant reformulation.

Reformulated, for example, in this post. 

Monday, June 10, 2024

Hope is a Mighty Strange Attractor

One of Voegelin's central points is that the normative condition of mankind is to live in tension with a transcendent reality that can never be reached but must never be forgotten.

It seems to me that this also accounts for the sensorium of time, in that eternity and the present moment are as if two ends of a single transcendent reality to which human beings have unique access.

In other words, each moment is oriented both to the future and to the top, the latter being the principle of God's omni-Presence.

Carlos Eire, in his A Short History of Eternity, warns us that "when we lose eternity as a horizon we can end up with totalitarian, materialistic nightmares." Conversely, the "paradoxical conjoining of the eternal with the temporal," writes Eire, is "the very essence" of Christian metaphysics. Not especially original, but then again, 

The test of truth, to put it pointedly, will be the lack of originality in the propositions (Voegelin).

Why is that? Don't we want Progress? Of course we do, but there is no progressing beyond, say, logic or mathematics, rather, only their ongoing deployment in order to deepen our understanding in the transcendent space just mentioned.

For Voegelin, modern philosophy has gone off the vertical rails, and when this happens, it is no longer even philosophy (since it is no longer oriented to its proper end). Rather, it is reduced to philodoxy (love of opinion) if we're lucky, misosophy (hatred of wisdom) if we're not. 

A survey of what is going on in our Educational Establishment -- from elite universities at the top to  grade school below -- suggests that we are indeed shit out of luck. This hatred of reality is the defining feature of a postmodern indoctrination, and journalism takes care of the rest.

Now, God understands as well as anyone that few of us have the time, ability, or inclination to devote our lives to thinking our way back to him. Therefore, he makes the burden easy, with a light yoke to sweeten the deal: Incarnation.

Now -- speaking of revolutions -- that is radical concept. No philosophical tracts to digest, no costly academic studies, no pitting one ideology against another to try and figure out which one is closer to the truth. Instead, just the offer of a Person and a relationship, and all this entails.

True, it entails a great deal, but instead of starting at the periphery of the cosmos and trying to burrow our way toward the center, the vertical Center and horizontal End are given to us at the outset (or in the moment), gratis. 

Thus, it is literally the ultimate shortcut, although again, the implications are infinite and thensome. Simple isn't necessarily easy, as proven by the Ramones.

Even if this is only an idea, is it the single best idea anyone has ever had? This idea has three moving parts, 1) in the beginning is the Logos, 2) the Logos is with God, and 3) the Logos becomes flesh and dwells among us.

Is, With, and Among: the ultimate Is is an irreducible With, and it is With us, of all people. 

Let us fast forward a couple thousand years to Pieper's Hope and History, which, for my money, conveys much of what Voegelin is trying to say, only in 100 instead of 10,000 pages.

For starters, why is hope one of the top three theological virtues? How is it different from, say, mere wishful thinking, and why should we cultivate it? And how can it have anything to do with thinking about reality? Isn't the whole point of thinking to purge it of desire and to look at things the way they are as opposed to the way we want them to be? 

For the stoic or the existentialist, hopelessness is a virtue. In other words, liberation, such as it is, comes down to resigning yourself to your hopeless predicament.  

Now, hold on just a minute. In The One Minute Philosopher, Brown distinguishes hope from wish by saying that the former "looks to the future, but is rooted in reality as it is."

Thus, reality as it is includes an intrinsic tension that reaches forth to a future that isn't yet. Analogously, think of how the phenomenon of Life Itself by definition reaches beyond the moment and anticipates its own future. When it stops doing so, it is Death Itself. 

This anticipation-reaching-forth-to-a-strange-attractor-in-the-future is an exceptionally strange thing to occur in a heretofore purely physical cosmos. Then again, perhaps Life Itself is the strange attractor toward which material processes are oriented.

In any event, the identical process occurs on the cognitive plane, as our minds reach forth toward truths which they do not yet possess. Continuously. Unless we are mentally and spiritually dead, in which case our minds no longer live in that space of hope that exists between present and future, anticipation and fulfillment, question and answer. 

To live -- or think -- only in the present would be to neither live nor think. In a very literal way, life itself is hope, in that its continuance is always possible but never necessary, nor is hope ordered to the impossible.

Hope can of course be misplaced or disappointed, but by its nature it is ordered to the possible, not the impossible or the necessary.

Regarding the latter, we don't hope the sun comes up tomorrow, because it will. Nor do we hope it comes out at midnight, because it won't. 

At the same time, we don't hope for things that are fully under our own control. For example, I don't hope that today I can avoid robbing a gas station, because I won't. I do, however, hope that Cousin Dupree can avoid robbing one, because he just might.

There is a vast middle ground covered by hope, and in a way, this middle ground is everything. It is where we actually live, i.e., not in our neurology or in the physical world, but in the space between.

For example, I hope I can get this post to make sense before I run out of time. I have partial control, in that I have to be here, but I don't have anything like total control. All I can do is keep typing and hope for the best. As Pieper says, "The only genuine hope is one directed toward something that does not depend on us."

Imagine the alternative: that I don't have to hope this post makes sense, because I have a total mastery of the subject right here inside my own noggin. But if that were the case, then I would no longer be reaching out in hope toward the transcendent object, just disgorging what I already know. 

In other words, there isn't just a correct content to thought, but a correct process of thought, and the correct process is always in tension with its own transcendent source and ground.

Genuine hope

appears to have no object that can be found to exist in the world in [an] "objectlike" way. There is, then, nothing specific and concrete that can be pointed to; it is directed toward something "indefinite," "nebulous," "formless," "unnameable"....

This functional hope

tends to transcend all "particular objects" and cannot really be grasped until one stops trying to imagine the thing hoped for. But of course there is certainly "something hoped for," even if its mode of being is quite different from that of all objective goods and all conceivable changes in the external world.

I suppose our bottom line for today is that faith, hope, and love aren't so much verbs as they are interdimensional links between immanent and transcendent objects (or subjects). 

Each of these functions to lift us out of our paltry and pneumatically sophicating existence into a dynamic and fruitful relationship with the source and ground of being. 

The End for Now, but I suspect we will continue down and up this rabbit hole in the subsequent installment.

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