Sunday, August 24, 2014

Eroticism, Music and Madness - annotated

He who regards himself in this light will be afraid of himself, and observing himself sustained in the body given him by nature between those two abysses of the Infinite and Nothing, will tremble at the sight of these marvels; and I think that, as his curiosity changes into admiration, he will be more disposed to contemplate them in silence than to examine them with presumption.”

Blaise Pascal



Prof. William Poteat passed in 2000. This is in honor to his memory. I knew him briefly at the University of Texas, Austin philosophy department in 1970/71 where he was guest lecturer from Duke University.  His course was Eroticism, Music and Madness.

Another of my benefactors instructed that if you bring something to mind again and again it tends to take on a life of its own and that in fact, if you are following others who have pursued similar meditations you eventually tap into that stream of consciousness, as it were, and benefit from the work of those in whose steps you follow. I have done that all these years with the knowledge imparted to me by Bill Poteat. That endeavor has increasingly come to occupy my mental activities and has been a source of inspiration and discovery. I was blessed to have the great fortune to have known this wonderful man. I am, of course, not an academic and am anything but an expert in these things but they bring me joy and more importantly, peace. It helps me to write this down in a more formal way than it exists in the books and papers scattered around my study and in the thought patterns, modifications, of my mind.

Bill Poteat used this course in part to convey his thoughts about modern man’s malaise. His thinking is that a large segment of western man has evolved into a spiritless self, a self filled with despair and self-loathing, that this personal tendency has roots in a fundamental philosophical conflict between Greek and Hebrew world views. Hebrew thought, being the basis for Christianity, is a primary underpinning of the western experience. It is this influence that creates, or posits, as Kierkegaard (Author A) wrote, the daemonic in nature, the sensuous genius, the erotic. This daemonic spirit is expressed most eloquently in the classic work of Mozart's Don Giovanni but its ramifications are much more than musical. This spirit informs every aspect of modern life. Poteat thought that it was the foundation for a madness that permeates modern civilization. He particularly thought that the development of atomic weapons were the most egregious manifestation with the accompanying policy of “mutual assured destruction”. He put together a tape that he played for the class that combined among other things the sounds of exploding atomic bombs with the music of Mozart’s Don Juan. At this juncture in my life, I am not so sure that it would not be more accurate to attribute war like activities to a more primitive impulse in the human animal than the sensuous in nature as posited by Hebrew shortcomings that flowered in Christianity. This is not to say that these attributes have no bearing whatsoever on the tendency of mankind to make war. It is an ephemera that we pursue here. Trying to pin down such cause/effect relationships is an extremely daunting intellectual exercise to which people, like Bill Poteat, dedicate their entire lives. My efforts pale in comparison.
Having said all that it is important to point out that Prof. Poteat was a practicing Christian. So was Kierkegaard, though he was at odds with the established religion of his time. The ESOTERIC teachings of Christianity do not carry the same negative baggage as that written of here. It is but one scenario that might shed some light on western history, on western man in particular, and how he has evolved as a sentient being in a world. I happen to believe that Christianity on the whole has been a positive influence. Take particular note that I, and not Poteat, focus attention on so called evangelicals. However, it goes without saying that I find a limited common cause with them in certain ways, particularly in the political realm. I think we share a common love of liberty and an attendant rugged individualism. This is an infinitely complex issue and any attempt to quantify all of the nuances involved will necessarily fall short. I would note in passing the parallels, I think obvious, between the activities of intoxicated youth (and yes, adults too) at rock concerts and those in attendance at an “old fashioned” revival meeting. As well, it is worth noting that highly successful political figures, e.g., Adolph Hitler, used the spoken word in the musical sense herein described and were able thereby to not just engender a longing in the sense of the sensuous but to make it into a power base, to use it to hold a whole population in thrall and set them on a suicidal course of action.

This post is as true a copy of the syllabus as I could make. Here I presume to insert my personal comments. I also appended Pascal’s fragments 72, 205, and 427 as well as the below referenced excerpt from Kierkegaard’s (Author “A”) Either/Or Vol. I. 

In memory of William H. Poteat

"Eroticism Music and Madness"
Course Syllabus
I. "Eroticism, Music and Madness"
As principle, as power, as self-contained system, sensuousness is first posited in Christianity; and in that sense it is true that Christianity brought [the] sensuous into the world.
1. Arche' as Cosmos, logos, psyche.
Arche', first principle, beginning of the world {as cosmos, i.e., order, ornament, opposite of chaos; as logos, i.e., fundamental order of the cosmos, divine word or reason (believed) incarnate in Jesus; as psyche, i.e., human soul, mind, spirit, universal consciousness}
2. Arche' as davar.
 
Arche’ (Greek) as davar (Hebrew), word or thing, action of God in space/time. From root word “dibur” meaning “to speak”. Every davar expresses a dibur—a spoken message. Every physical object or phenomenon, in addition to its physical reality, conveys a spiritual comment on existence.

3. The ordinacy of Cosmos arche' –
Orderly arrangement, disposition of order as first principle.
4. The different ordinacy of davar arche'
Orderly arrangement, disposition of word or thing, action of God as first principle, beginning of the world.
a. Logos is being, is reality, is divine. (Reality does "hide" itself, must be sought behind "appearances".)
b. The relation of "appearances" to logos. Being and nothingness relation.
c. Yet: Being is finite and fully knowable.
d. Davar is not reality, is not being, is not divine.
e. The paradigmatic act -- speech
1). Speech and speaker: former manifests latter, but not fully.
2). Act and actor: former manifests latter, but not exhaustively.
3). The person cannot be known exhaustively -- by another, by himself.
4). The Person is fully disclosed only to God.
5. What is the ordinacy of the Davar arche'?
a. Keeping promises -- God's model.
b. Is retaining one's identity
1). Cf. Israel vs. Yahweh: "I will be as I will be" -- "absolute relation to the absolute, relative relation to the relative."
2). Edward Chamberlain, Bendrix.
II. So -- whether you have the ordinacy of a finite Cosmos, or that of a providential divine will -- faithful Yahweh -- as alternative principles, you still do not have "restlessness and tumult, infinity."
A. How then does Xianity posit that spiritually (pneumatically) qualified sensuousness expressed in the musical Don Giovanni in Mozart's opera?
B. Xianity destroyed the finite, harmonious and fully intelligible cosmos of Grk. thought by substituting davar (the speaking and heard word) for logos (the word as written and read).
The book of Mark, 16:15 “Go into the world and PREACH the gospel…!” Proselytize, evangelize, stand in a pulpit and exhort the congregation. Passion is key to success of evangelizing. I would further note that, to my knowledge Jesus never wrote. Any reference to his teaching always follows the form “Jesus said so and so.” I think this simple fact goes a long way towards verifying the thought of Kierkegaard and Poteat.
C. This made the relation between medium and its content more equivocal and contingent.
1. Reality does not hide behind appearances -- logos behind aesheta.
2. Reality is equivocally manifest as a person is always equivocally manifest in his speech.
3. Reality of man is contingently manifest inasmuch as he cannot fully indwell his own speech.
D. But the medium of speech becomes radically distinct from all cyclical and organismic forms of ordinacy; and becomes paradigmatic medium to reality.
E. Let us remember:
1. Language has its element in time.
2. It passes away in time in an essential sense.
a. Because of verbs with 3 tenses
b. Reflexive first personal pronouns -- thereby making a constant reference to the world as radically experienced by each of us in our bodies.
3. That inasmuch as speech has its element in time:
a. The sensuous element is negatived
b. Therefore: as a medium, speech frees us from ordinate nature, thereby giving us spirit --while restoring ordinacy at a higher level. (We "hear" the meaning not the "sounds")
F. Yet -- the very equivocalness and contingency of the relation between this medium and its content has two consequences:
1. Emphasizes the importance of fidelity to the spoken word -- the promise -- with Yahweh as model. Our words are forever in danger of becoming "musical".
2. Thereby suggests an antithesis to itself.
3. The loss of identity in passion finds a perfect expression in another medium which has its element in time, viz., music.
Evangelism aims to create a sense of passion as an instrumentality of loss of identity to a separate reality, abode of the divine. Intense emotional response and so called speaking in tongues is outward appearance of this. The speech of the evangelist is more music than word. One goes beyond listening for the meaning and listens for the “beyond” and in a sense goes there to the point of being in trance like state even at times, fainting.
a. Sensuousness is pneumaticized, i.e., freed from ordinate nature, by music because it hurries in a perpetual vanishing and has no reflexivity.
Pneuma, the vital spirit, the soul, or the spirit of God as holy ghost. Sensuousness comes to be filled with soul, i.e., soul is transfigured as sensuousness, the erotic in nature, and thus assumes characteristic of the daemonic. Evil is state of being insatiable, forever seeking fulfillment through sensual gratification.
b. We hear the "restlessness, tumult and infinity," not the sounds.
c. Eroticism thus becomes a power in itself.
d. It is inordinate, discarnate, spiritual, infinite, erotic longing.
It is a chaotic, disembodied spirit totally given over to infinite, erotic longing. This is the seusuous genius of Don Juanism.
e. Cf. E/O. p. 88 -- "The Middle Ages..."**
E/O is Soren Kierkeegard's "Either/Or, Vol. I"
f. Don Giovanni is "pure, discarnate erotic spirit..."
4. With neither the ordinacy of finite cosmos nor that of an unfailingly faithful will, the world is neither eternal (as a Cosmos) nor contingent (as a creature which might have not been) and becomes "contingent" in the sense that it is underivable, as a meaningless surd.
5. Pascal's Pensee's: Fragments* 72, 205, 427.
6. If psyche (Cosmos) is no longer the locus of numinal power; and, if pneuma no longer corresponds to the Yahwist speech, then psyche (Cosmos) becomes heimarmene, the insensate prison of an alien and restless power in quest of a 'hidden' divinity.

Heimarmene, divine providence or fate in the sense of God’s justice-dealing activity. I think Poteat meant something other than this here.

Now -- both the ancient Cosmos metaphor and the Yahwist metaphor gave alternative accounts of the background of order and meaning in the world; they both saw this background as “holy"; and in different ways commensurate with human existence.  When both of these metaphors are fragmented -- we are left with an impersonal cosmos and a homeless voice whose questions evoke no (Yahwist) answers.
This fragmentation is, of course, what we are trying to understand.

Pascal advises the wise thing to do is just “contemplate in silence” the mystery of being. I agree that the default state is silence, peace. But absent any evidence to the contrary it is as likely as anything that God is a child with an ant farm and that there is no purpose outside that parameter. The cynicism of this view is astounding suggesting as it does that to see what we will do he invents trouble to throw at us, stirs us up with a stick for the pleasure of watching whether we overcome or succumb. This is as far as skepticism can take us, I suppose. I am personally more comfortable with less extreme approaches to achieving an understanding of being in the world. Coming out of that infinite silence of Pascal one can make a way to an infinity of destinies. The main problem with some views is they are just too simple and I think the purely skeptical, cynical view clearly falls into this category. One can mold life around the kernel that we live in an “impersonal cosmos” but it is wrong to do so. At the same time we can evolve unconsciously into a modality of living that means necessarily that ours is “a homeless voice whose questions evoke no (Yahwist) answers.” I think this is the obvious outcome of living a merely materialistic existence. One can consciously choose to believe that the universe is impersonal but those that follow the paths of Don Juanism, of the sensuous, the daemonic spirit that is materialism, make that choice unconsciously. It is made for them by their nihilistic solipsism. In the complete service of evil, as a majority of society seems to be, we all suffer from the combined madness and flounder in a tumultuous malaise of dread, fear, and anxiety from which there is “no exit.” I think there are good reasons to take different paths.

Plato, in the Timaeus, defines out of the divine, out of God, an aspect or facet he names the Demiurge. In Gnosticism this Demiurge is a divinity that is more builder of the material world than creator of the universe. He is the Archon, stands between man and God proper, and is capable only of endowing man with a sensuous soul whereas a rational aspect to the soul is an additive of the greater God. The Hebrew Jehovah God was identified as Archon by the Gnostics.

Speaking from personal experience, ritual activities of evangelical Christians involve dissipation of self identity in passion. A confused amalgam of feelings of not just joy, but guilt, anxiety, dread, fear, sorrow, and awe characterize the passages into these trances. I would point out that joy is not necessarily peace and also note Kierkegaard thought that dread was the opposite of faith. I wonder whether Christian faith, for many, is not also based on feeling? They try the impossible, to “know” with their body rather than their soul. They intend to “love” God, but is it not something less than God that they truly love? Is the trance itself a surrogate for the divine and thus is it not true that they in reality worship evil? God, thus, eludes them and their embrace sadly closes merely on the abyss. We are warned that there are serious pitfalls on the spiritual path, that evil is devious in the extreme and can appear as the greatest good, as the brightest truth. Tread carefully the path to God.

Look again at Don Giovanni, the sensuous genius as expressed in Mozart’s opera. This mode of worship of which we speak is not unlike Don Juanism, not unlike the tumultuous musical experience. Meaning is lost to feeling; feeling IS the whole of the Real, assumes a spirit of its own, a forever discarnate spirit, disappearing on its appearance, ephemeral and perpetually vanishing, seeking everywhere anihilation. It can’t be held and therefore is impossible to truly affirm. It is essentially empty, a meaningless, purposeless surd. Evil is that. Void of meaning and purpose is that longing for rapture, union with the divine in a “separate” realm, a heaven, to be carried away there to permanent bliss, joy, and release from the bonds of the flesh in order to join with eternal spirit. It is an impossible dream and those who truly find the essential truth of reality find that “the end of all our exploring/ will be to arrive where we started/ and know the place for the first time.”

So, for the simple person, is there a true path to the divine? Yes, and it is essentially characterized by humility. Fundamentalist Christians, and others too (secular humanists?), egotistically claim they have the secret to truth. This is not so, for, in a sense, the secret to the truth is bound up with doubt. One can never ever hold the truth, hold God, as his own for how can one hold what he always already has? “Salvation” is a process and I assure you the more you cling to certainty the more salvation will slip away.

* Blaise Pascal, (1623-1662)
Fragment 72
Man's disproportion. - [This is where our innate knowledge leads us. If it be not true, there is no truth in man; and if it be true, he finds therein great cause for humiliation, being compelled to abase himself in one way or another. And since he cannot exist without this knowledge, I wish that, before entering on deeper researches into nature, he would consider her both seriously and at leisure, that he would reflect upon himself also, and knowing what proportion there is ....] Let man then contemplate the whole of nature in her full and grand majesty, and turn his vision from the low objects which surround him. Let him gaze on that brilliant light, set like an eternal lamp to illumine the universe; let the earth appear to him a point in comparison with the vast circle described by the sun; and let him wonder at the fact that this vast circle is itself but a very fine point in comparison with that described by the stars in their revolution round the firmament. But if our view be arrested there, let our imagination pass beyond; it will sooner exhaust the power of conception than nature that of supplying material for conception. The whole visible world is only an imperceptible atom in the ample bosom of nature. No idea approaches it. We may enlarge our conceptions beyond all imaginable space; we only produce atoms in comparison with the reality of things. It is an infinite sphere, the centre of which is everywhere, the circumference nowhere. In short it is the greatest sensible mark of the almighty power of God, that imagination loses itself in that thought.
Returning to himself, let man consider what he is in comparison with all existence; let him regard himself as lost in this remote corner of nature; and from the little cell in which he finds himself lodged, I mean the universe, let him estimate at their true value the earth, kingdoms, cities, and himself. What is a man in the Infinite?

But to show him another prodigy equally astonishing, let him examine the most delicate things he knows. Let a mite be given him, with its minute body and parts incomparably more minute, limbs with their joints, veins in the limbs, blood in the veins, humours in the blood, drops in the humours, vapours in the drops. Dividing these last things again, let him exhaust his powers of conception, and let the last object at which he can arrive be now that of our discourse. Perhaps he will think that here is the smallest point in nature. I will let him see therein a new abyss. I will paint for him not only the visible universe, but all that he can conceive of nature's immensity in the womb of this abridged atom. Let him see therein an infinity of universes, each of which has its firmament, its planets, its earth, in the same proportion as in the visible world; in each earth animals, and in the last mites, in which he will find again all that the first had, finding still in these others the same thing without end and without cessation. Let him lose himself in wonders as amazing in their littleness as the others in their vastness. For who will not be astounded at the fact that our body, which a little ago was imperceptible, in the universe, itself imperceptible in the bosom of the whole, is now a colossus, a world, or rather a whole, in respect of the nothingness which we cannot reach? He who regards himself in this light will be afraid of himself, and observing himself sustained in the body given him by nature between those two abysses of the Infinite and Nothing, will tremble at the sight of these marvels; and I think that, as his curiosity changes into admiration, he will be more disposed to contemplate them in silence than to examine them with presumption.

For in fact what is man in nature? A Nothing in comparison with the Infinite, an All in comparison with the Nothing, a mean between nothing and everything. Since he is infinitely removed from comprehending the extremes, the end of things and their beginning are hopelessly hidden from him in an impenetrable secret; he is equally incapable of seeing the Nothing from which he was made, and the Infinite in which he is swallowed up.

What will he do then, but perceive the appearance of the middle of things, in an eternal despair of knowing either their beginning or their end. All things proceed from the Nothing, and are borne towards the Infinite. Who will follow these marvelous processes? The Author of these wonders understands them. None other can do so.

Through failure to contemplate these Infinites, men have rashly rushed into the examination of nature, as though they bore some proportion to her. It is strange that they have wished to understand the beginnings of things, and thence to arrive at the knowledge of the whole, with a presumption as infinite as their object. For surely this design cannot be formed without presumption or without a capacity infinite like nature.
If we are well-informed, we understand that, as nature has graven her image and that of her Author on all things, they almost all partake of her double infinity. Thus we see that all the sciences are infinite in the extent of their researches. For who doubts that geometry, for instance, has an infinite infinity of problems to solve? They are also infinite in the multitude and fineness of their premises; for it is clear that those which are put forward as ultimate are not self-supporting, but are based on others which, again having others for their support, do not permit of finality. But we represent some as ultimate for reason, in the same way as in regard to material objects we call that an indivisible point beyond which our senses can no longer perceive anything, although by its nature it is infinitely divisible.

Of these two Infinites of science, that of greatness is the most palpable, and hence a few persons have pretended to know all things. "I will speak of the whole," said Democritus.  But the infinitely little is the least obvious. Philosophers have much oftener claimed to have reached it, and it is here they have all stumbled. This has given rise to such common titles as First Principles, Principles of Philosophy, and the like, as ostentatious in fact, though not in appearance, as that one which blinds us, De omni scibili. 3

We naturally believe ourselves far more capable of reaching the centre of things than of embracing their circumference. The visible extent of the world visibly exceeds us, but as we exceed little things, we think ourselves more capable of knowing them. And yet we need no less capacity for attaining the Nothing than the All. Infinite capacity is required for both, and it seems to me that whoever shall have understood the ultimate principles of being might also attain to the knowledge of the Infinite. The one depends on the other, and one leads to the other. These extremes meet and reunite by force of distance, and find each other in God, and in God alone.

Let us then take our compass; we are something, and we are not everything. The nature of our existence hides from us the knowledge of first beginnings which are born of the Nothing; and the littleness of our being conceals from us the sight of the Infinite.  Our intellect holds the same position in the world of thought as our body occupies in the expanse of nature.  Limited as we are in every way, this state which holds the mean between two extremes is present in all our impotence. Our senses perceive no extreme. Too much sound deafens us; too much light dazzles us; too great distance or proximity hinders our view. Too great length and too great brevity of discourse tend to obscurity; too much truth is paralyzing (I know some who cannot understand that to take four from nothing leaves nothing). First principles are too self-evident for us; too much pleasure disagrees with us. Too many concords are annoying in music; too many benefits irritate us; we wish to have the wherewithal to over-pay our debts. Beneficia eo usque laeta sunt dum videntur exsolvi posse; ubi multum antevenere, pro gratia odium redditur. 4 We feel neither extreme heat nor extreme cold. Excessive qualities are prejudicial to us and not perceptible by the senses; we do not feel but suffer them. Extreme youth and extreme age hinder the mind, as also too much and too little education. In short, extremes are for us as though they were not, and we are not within their notice. The escape us, or we them.

This is our true state; this is what makes us incapable of certain knowledge and of absolute ignorance. We sail within a vast sphere, ever drifting in uncertainty, driven from end to end. When we think to attach ourselves to any point and to fasten to it, it wavers and leaves us; and if we follow it, it eludes our grasp, slips past us, and vanishes for ever. Nothing stays for us. This is our natural condition, and yet most contrary to our inclination; we burn with desire to find solid ground and an ultimate sure foundation whereon to build a tower reaching to the Infinite. But our whole groundwork cracks, and the earth opens to abysses.

Let us therefore not look for certainty and stability. Our reason is always deceived by fickle shadows; nothing can fix the finite between the two Infinites, which both enclose and fly from it.
If this be well understood, I think that we shall remain at rest, each in the state wherein nature has placed him. As this sphere which has fallen to us as our lot is always distant from either extreme, what matters it that man should have a little more knowledge of the universe? If he has it, he but gets a little higher. Is he not always infinitely removed from the end, and is not the duration of our life equally removed from eternity, even if it lasts ten years longer?

In comparison with these Infinites all finites are equal and I see no reason for fixing our imagination on one more than on another. The only comparison which we make of ourselves to the finite is painful to us.
If man made himself the first object of study, he would see how incapable he is of going further. How can a part know the whole? But he may perhaps aspire to know at least the parts to which he bears some proportion. But the parts of the world are all so related and linked to one another, that I believe it impossible to know one without the other and without the whole.

Man, for instance, is related to all he knows. He needs a place wherein to abide, time through which to live, motion in order to live, elements to compose him, warmth and food to nourish him, air to breathe. He sees light; he feels bodies; in short, he is in a dependant alliance with everything. To know man, then, it is necessary to know how it happens that he needs air to live, and, to know the air, we must know how it is thus related to the life of man, etc. Flame cannot exist without air; therefore to understand the one, we must understand the other.

Since everything then is cause and effect, dependant and supporting, mediate and immediate, and all is held together by a natural though imperceptible chain, which binds together things most distant and most different, I hold it equally impossible to know the parts without knowing the whole, and to know the whole without knowing the parts in detail.  [The eternity of things in itself or in God must also astonish our brief duration. The fixed and constant immobility of nature, in comparison with the continual change which goes on within us, must have the same effect.]

And what completes our incapability of knowing things, is the fact that they are simple, and that we are composed of two opposite natures, different in kind, soul and body. For it is impossible that our rational part should be other than spiritual; and if any one maintain that we are simply corporeal, this would far more exclude us from the knowledge of things, there being nothing so inconceivable as to say that matter knows itself. It is impossible to imagine how it should know itself.

So if we are simply material, we can know nothing at all; and if we are composed of mind and matter, we cannot know perfectly things which are simple, whether spiritual or corporeal. Hence it comes that almost all philosophers have confused ideas of things, and speak of material things in spiritual terms, and of spiritual things in material terms. For they say boldly that bodies have a tendency to fall, that they seek after their centre, that they fly from destruction, that they fear the void, that they have inclinations, sympathies, antipathies, all of which attributes pertain only to mind. And in speaking of minds, they consider them as in a place, and attribute to them movement from one place to another; and these are qualities which belong only to bodies.  Instead of receiving the ideas of these things in their purity, we colour them with our own qualities, and stamp with our composite being all the simple things which we contemplate.  Who would not think, seeing us compose all things of mind and body, but that this mixture would be quite intelligible to us? Yet it is the very thing we least understand. Man is to himself the most wonderful object in nature; for he cannot conceive what the body is, still less what the mind is, and least of all how a body should be united to a mind. This is the consummation of his difficulties, and yet it is his very being. Modus quo corporibus adhaerent spiritus comprehendi ab hominibus non potest, et hoc tamen homo est. 5 Finally, to complete the proof of our weakness, I shall conclude with these two considerations . . .

When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed up in the eternity before and after, the little space which I fill, and even can see, engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces of which I am ignorant, and which know me not, I am frightened, and am astonished at being here rather than there; for there is no reason why here rather than there, why now rather than then. Who has put me here? By whose order and direction have this place and time been alloted to me? Memoria hospitis unius diei praetereuntis. 7

Man does not know in what rank to place himself. He has plainly gone astray, and fallen from his true place without being able to find it again. He seeks it anxiously and unsuccessfully everywhere in impenetrable darkness.
** The Middle Ages had much to say about a mountain, not found on any map, which is called the mountain of Venus. There the sensuous has its home, there it has its own wild pleasure, for it is a kingdom, a state. In this kingdom language has no place, nor sober-minded thought, nor the toilsome business of reflection. There sound only the voice of elemental passion, the play of appetites, the wild shouts of intoxication; it exists solely for pleasure in eternal tumult. The first-born of this kingdom is Don Juan. That it is the kingdom of sin is not yet affirmed, for we confine ourselves to the moment at which this kingdom appears in aesthetic indifference. Not until reflection enters does it appear as the kingdom of sin….

[Footnote 3: "Concerning everything knowable" - the title under which Pico della Mirandola announced the 900 propositions which he undertook to defend in 1486.]

[Footnote 4: "Benefits are pleasant while it seems possible to requite them; when they become much greater, they produce hatred rather than gratitude.

[Footnote 5: "The manner in which spirits are united to bodies cannot be understood by men, yet such is man." - St. Augustine.]

[Footnote 7: "The remembrance of a guest that tarrieth but a day." - Wisdom, v. 14.]

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Eternal Chaotic Inflationary Theory

This theory holds the Universe doesn't begin in a hot state but more interesting to me is that it holds that it is a fractal and universes (multiverse) are infinitely created.  And, the reason "our" universe seems anthropic is simply because it is the one in which we are able to thrive.

Events might be mere flecks of foam in the surf, foam flowers, whereas the real movers are the tides and the swells.  The swell of the wave, the cresting and curling, makes the ephemeral bubbles.  These are conditions along the boundaries.  We humbly seek from our vantage point in the flecks of foam to embrace the swell, the wave, the tide.

Here, discussing Aristotle, I wrote:  "... I have an idea that the Universe is infinitely malleable, which idea, I think, has its roots in the principles stated here. My notion that the Real is akin to a fractal, I think, is also bound up in these concepts. It is infinitely self-inventing, and every instantiation increases and enriches the pregnancy for ensuing evolution. All that will ever be is already actual in the "beginning" even though all that will ever be is an elaboration on the infinite stream of prior instances. Every new instance is a new beginning and a new boundary for the new. Every new instantiation is an elaboration of its predecessor. And, our heavens are self made as are our hells..."

Then a few days ago I found this from theoretical physicist, father of the theory of eternal chaotic inflation, Andrei Linde:

"Think about it this way: previously we thought that our universe was like a spherical balloon. In the new picture, it's like a balloon producing balloons, producing balloons. This is a big fractal. The Greeks were thinking about our universe as an ideal sphere, because this was the best image they had at their disposal. The 20th century idea is a fractal, the beauty of a fractal. Now, you have these fractals. We ask, how many different types of these elements of fractals are there, which are irreducible to each other? And the number will be exponentially large, and in the simplest models it is about 10 to the degree 10, to the degree 10, to the degree 7. It actually may be much more than that, even though nobody can see all of these universes at once.

"Soon after Alan Guth proposed his version of the inflationary theory, he famously exclaimed that the universe is an ultimate free lunch. Indeed, in inflationary theory the whole universe emerges from almost nothing. A year later, in the proceedings of the first conference on inflation in Cambridge, I expanded his statement by saying that the universe is not just a free lunch; it is an eternal feast where all possible dishes are served. But at that time I could not even imagine that the menu of all possible universes could be so incredibly large."

I would also submit for consideration something I've noted before from Michael Hanlon.  On the multiverse:

"The ‘many worlds’ interpretation of quantum physics was first proposed in 1957 by Hugh Everett III... It states that all quantum possibilities are, in fact, real. When we roll the dice of quantum mechanics, each possible result comes true in its own parallel timeline. If this sounds mad, consider its main rival: the idea that ‘reality’ results from the conscious gaze. Things only happen, quantum states only resolve themselves, because we look at them. As Einstein is said to have asked, with some sarcasm, ‘would a sidelong glance by a mouse suffice?’ Given the alternative, the prospect of innumerable branching versions of history doesn’t seem like such a terrible bullet to bite."

Marcel Proust wrote in Remembrance of Things Past that "Reality takes shape in memory alone."  I agree.  This comports nicely with the notion that " ‘reality’ results from the conscious gaze."  Whether this is true, I don't know.  What if the whole thing is self aware, or some permutation thereof?

"It is infinitely self inventing" has the same sentiment, I think, as the Linde postulate.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Snowy Range Pass



It was July and a getaway was needed.  At 10,847 feet this was literally the high point of the trip.  The mountain is Medicine Bow Peak towering over the pass at an elevation of 12,013.  The last time I was up here was in June a few years back.  I traveled that day from Cheyenne west through Laramie and then took Wyoming 130 over the pass.   There were walls of snow piled on either side of the road eight feet or more high.  It was like riding through an ice hallway.  And, there were snow flurries on interstate 80 as I approached Laramie.  I had to wear my most serious cold weather gear that day and was still cold.  Medicine Bow Peak was completely covered with snow.  Having come up through the western mountain ranges of Colorado this time and seeing absolutely zero snow I expected Medicine Bow Peak to also be dried out; and it almost was, compared to the previous ride.

This time I came up through Walden, Colorado and traversed the Medicine Bow from the West.  Colorado was teeming with tourists but by the time I got past Walden, way in north Colorado, past all the main attractions like Breckenridge and Vale, the traffic thinned to a trickle.

I don't know how many miles I rode on this trip.  A direct route from my house to my destination, Gillette, Wyoming, is 1200 miles.  So at least 2400.  The first day I did over 500 and the second and third and fourth about 400.  Spending the third night in Laramie I arrived the next day in Gillette where I stayed about a week and then took two more nights to get back home; Limon, Colorado, Amarillo, Texas.  It was a hard ride particularly since because of other activities I haven't been far afield on the bikes in three years but I'm glad I went.

The 1993 BMW K1100LT has close to 112,000 showing on the odometer now.  I think next time I'll take my 1976 R90/6 which has only about 145,000 miles on it.  At 600 pounds its 300 lighter than the K bike and doesn't have a fairing so it's more fun to ride, in my opinion.  They both, however, have an insatiable appetite for asphalt.  I sure wish I could spring for a new K1600 but I just don't like some of the nanny features though I am sorely tempted by the 160 horse power six cylinder engine and the mere 708 pound weight in spite of that.

We are a moving picture:


Monday, April 08, 2013

On Board the Hermione

In August of 1990 wife Helen and son Christopher and me met her parents at Baltimore harbor where the 1923 Elco motor yacht Hermione was tied up.  We then cruised down the Patuxent river to Solomon, Maryland for an overnight then on down the Chesapeake bay and up the Potomac to Hermione's home berth at Colonial Beach, Virginia.  This is a VHS video of that cruise.

Update:  I have since learned that the Hermione suffered complete destruction in a January 7, 2011 fire at McCotter's Marina in Beaufort County, North Carolina.  The owners have a webpage devoted to her.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Further Reflections on the Nature of the Real

"Socrates said the same thing always, having only one thought, idea of universality.  Modern philosophy has many ideas, all having limited truth."

The idea that ‘reality’ results from the conscious gaze was mentioned in the previous post.  This notion is supposed to have been put forth by the proponents of quantum mechanic's so called "string theory."  It comports with a philosophical notion that I find has merit, that only that in which we believe is real.  People find themselves in a body in the world mediated by eyes, ears, etc., and come to believe that perceived phenomena are real.  This notion has been questioned by many down through the ages with Merleau-Ponty's statement that we must not wonder whether we really perceive a world, we must instead say, the world is what we perceive being a fair rendering of my personal position.  Assuming the world thus perceived is real, it follows that this reality is, because we believe it to be so, because, we can "see", have given it our "conscious gaze."  However, this leaves most in a quandary as to the "existence" of that which is beyond the phenomenal.  I've written many times about this but find myself going back to the subject again and again.  What about God and other non phenomenal attributes?

Ask not if God exists.  Ask if he is Real.  There are beautiful things, most would agree; in my scheme the "things" exist but not the "beauty", at least not until it is realized.   Beauty is not perceived in and of itself.  Beauty is only seen when there is first a thing.  Like the divine beauty is eternal; and truth, and Love, and so forth.  And what is Real is found only through faith.  Believe not and that reality falls away.  God is likewise manifest in things.  But God is not a thing except as a potentiality.  So he doesn't have existence, being eternal.  Nonetheless he is Real, the primal Real, but only for those who believe.  Truth, beauty, and love, etc., potentially manifest, but likewise require a "conscious gaze".  One makes a conscious choice to see or not see the truth, or the beauty of a phenomenal object.  A value judgement is made.  One makes a conscious choice to Realize the deity.  Failing to do so leaves one with an empty cold Universe where only ephemeral objects are real, and that only because we have affirmed them, and when they dissolve into that whence they arose, including the body in which the "conscious gaze" originates, all that can be said is that out of nothing comes nothing.  In the end if you have no faith, nothing is your reward.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Commentary on Grand Unified Theory

"In the order of intelligible things his intelligence holds the same rank as does his body in the expanse of nature, and all it can do is perceive the appearance of the middle of things, in an eternal despair of knowing either their beginning or their end. All things proceed from the nothing, and are led towards the infinite. Who can follow these marvellous processes? The Author of these wonders understands them. None other can do so."
Blaise Pascal

"That’s why we’re here: the passing of time has no meaning unless experienced by conscious beings."
James Lileks

...or consciousness, truth, beauty.  Time and these are universal but must be individualized, localized to be meaningful.

God hides in plain sight.  He does not do the things man does, think, etc., but he is there when we do them.  We are confronted with the incomprehensible Otherness of the opposite.  Today I see woe has its wisdom, sorrow enlightens the soul.

Michael Hanlon on theory of "pocket universes"  This sounds a lot like Aristotle: "If it is allowed by the basic physical laws (which, in this scenario, will be constant across all universes), it must happen.  This idea from the Multiverse theory.  And from Michael Hanlon on string theory: "The ‘many worlds’ interpretation of quantum physics....states that all quantum possibilities are, in fact, real. When we roll the dice of quantum mechanics, each possible result comes true in its own parallel timeline. If this sounds mad, consider its main rival: the idea that ‘reality’ results from the conscious gaze. Things only happen, quantum states only resolve themselves, because we look at them. As Einstein is said to have asked, with some sarcasm, ‘would a sidelong glance by a mouse suffice?’"

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Hawking:   "If Einstein's general theory of relativity is correct, the universe began with a singularity called the big bang. Now because it was a singularity, all the laws of physics broke down. And therefore we cannot predict how the universe began. A few years ago I was at a conference on cosmology that was held in the Vatican. And at the end of the conference the participants were granted an audience with the Pope. The Pope said it was fine for them to inquire into the early history of the universe, but they should not ask questions about the big bang itself... because that was the work of God. However, at that conference I proposed that Einstein's general theory of relativity would have to be modified to take quantum mechanics into account. And that modification would mean that there was no singularity. Space time would be finite in extent, but with no singularities. In this picture, space time would be like the surface of the earth. It's finite in extent, but it doesn't have any boundary or edge or singularities."

Interviewer:  SO IT WOULDN'T BE POSSIBLE TO SAY THAT REALLY THE UNIVERSE HAS A BEGINNING OR END, OR WHAT WOULD BE POSSIBLE TO SAY ABOUT BEGINNING AND CAUSATION?

"The universe... the universe would have a beginning and an end in the same sense that degrees of latitude have a beginning and an end at the north and south poles respectively. There isn't any point with a latitude 91 degrees north. And similarly, there isn't any point in the universe which is before the big bang. And the, but the north pole is a perfectly regular point of the earth's surface, it's not a singular point. And similarly, I believe that the big bang was a perfectly regular point of space time. And all the laws of physics would hold at the big bang. And if that is the case, we can completely predict the state of the universe from the laws of physics."

 ALL OF THEORETICAL PHYSICS SEEMS TO BE DIRECTED TOWARDS THE EVENTUAL GOAL, THAT'S A UNIFIED FIELD THEORY, AN UNDERSTANDING OF FUNDAMENTAL LAWS THAT UNIFY ALL OF NATURE, INCLUDING MANKIND. WILL WE EVER FIND SUCH A THEORY, AND IF SO, WHAT COULD BE THE CONSEQUENCES?

"I think it's an open question as to whether we will find a complete unified theory. All I can say is that we don't seem to have one at the moment."

YOU WERE SAYING THAT THERE MAY BE SUCH A THING . . .

"We may never find a complete unified theory, but I think that there is a 50-50 chance that we'll do so by the end of the century."

WHAT WOULD BE THE CONSEQUENCES OF SUCH A THEORY? WOULD WE THEN KNOW EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT PHYSICAL REALITY?

"In principle, but not in practice. Because the equations are very difficult to solve in any but the simplest situations. We already know the laws of physics that underlie the behaviour of matter in normal circumstances. So in principle, we should be able to predict all of physics, all of chemistry and biology. But we've not had much success in predicting human behaviour from mathematical equations."
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Commentary

Science posits the Real, the source of meaning and purpose, in an absolute other.  It's over the horizon and is called something like "complete unified theory" and would resolve the general theory of relativity with the (theories of) quantum mechanics, the physics of the very large with that of the very small.  There are no concrete objects, but waves in force fields.  Every discovery leads to new postulates as the absolute other is approached but never quite reached.  Like going the speed of light requires ever more energy as one approaches light speed, to make the final leap requires all the known energy in the universe.  I postulate that to calculate the grand unified theory similarly requires ever greater calculus and that eventually you run out of calculus coincidentally at the same moment you would reach the ultimate theory.  Anyhow, Hawking says, the theory can't be solved in anything but the simplest situations and then only in principle, not in practice. I think the evidence can't be finally owned because it hides in plain sight.  You can't find it because the premise you don't already have it, is false.  The mention that ‘reality’ results from the conscious gaze does indeed border on a line of inquiry that gets into territory normally shunned by physics, by science.  But Hanlon says it seems mad.  James Lileks could have formulated his statement thusly.

What's also interesting is the notion that if a reality is possible it will eventuate.  Aristotle postulated this too, and noted that unimaginable horrors were necessary conditions.  Also notable is the absence of anything not quantifiable from these types of proceedings.  Sean Carroll, for instance, dismisses philosophical insights relating to consciousness, the soul, and religious notions of transfiguration, for instance, as flowery speech.  Science generally doesn't consider anything that can't be measured.  And religion, it's parent, or at least predecessor, tends to shun measurement.  Thus, for science, measurement becomes the sine qua non of knowledge. You own reality by taking measure of it.  But knowledge isn't the only path to understanding.  Indeed it can be an impediment.  It seems to me a grand unified theory would actually account for time, beauty, love, truth, and such coming to have meaning when actualized in a field of consciousness of a sentient life form.  My personal grand notion, call it theory if you want, is consciousness is the instrument of the soul and the issue of Grace working through the emotions, through mind, to affect the apotheosis of matter.  Art, religion, science, history, and philosophy as developmental stepping stones, as stages on life's way, taken together give better results than any one taken alone.  Consciousness is directed outward in all but the last, just asking the question, or positing the answer in a false other.  In philosophy consciousness actually returns on itself ever going out only to find that outwardness is another way of looking at inwardness.  This scheme is elaborated by R. G. Collingwood, and Soren Kierkagaard.

People, science won't believe in God because they have no proof, evidence.  They fail to realize evidence always pertains to some thing and that God is not a separate thing unto himself.  Its closer to reality that he is all that is in which case the "evidence" is hiding in plain sight.  He can't be parsed from the whole of reality: neither can you. If you must have evidence look at the  back of your hand, look at all that is, for the whole thing is God is as valid a statement as he is not, doesn't exist.  Precisely.  We perceive ourselves, taking that as evidence we exist and at the same time as the paradigm for the proof of anything at all.  Self measure is established as the measure of all things.  We anthropomorphize the whole of reality.

Extending our mind with mathematical equations we define alternately increasingly fine and/or gross models of reality.  We see particles so small, the Higgs Boson, for instance, the so called "God" particle, they revert to fields of energy, and worlds so dense and large, black holes, that their matter assumes  the distribution observed in the whole Universe.  Our mind holds these realities as we extend our experiments searching out valid proofs.  But the mind was always there with the proofs coming behind.  What kind of world is it where mind is centered everywhere, bounded nowhere? No matter where we focus our technologically enhanced senses, our mathematically precise concepts, we find, if we care to notice, consciousness, mind, precedes us.  Our reach always exceeds our grasp.

If that's too much to swallow then here is a simple formula that is known to work:  "Praise no day until evening, no wife until buried, no sword until tested, no maid until bedded, no ice until crossed, no ale until drunk."

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Is there an Apriori Realm? Existentialism, Essence, and Existence


We must not, therefore, wonder whether we really perceive a world, we must instead say: the world is what we perceive.
M. Merleau-Ponty

Perception…. is the background from which all things stand out.
M. Merleau-Ponty

More Merleau-Ponty: "….doubt….could never finally tear us away from truth. …in so far as we talk about illusion, it is because we have identified illusions, and done so solely in the light of some perception which at the same time gave assurance of its own truth. We are in the realm of truth and it is the experience of truth which is self evident. The experience of truth is self evident. To seek to ground this in a more pervasive claim, such as Descartes’ doctrine of doubt, would prove unfaithful to my experience of the world; one should be looking for what makes that experience possible instead of looking for what it is. The self evidence of perception is not adequate thought or apodeictic self-evidence. The world is not what I think, but what I live through."

To be limited is in turn to be a limit because it is not possible to say which defines a thing/limit more, its definition of itself or its definition in the terms of that which it limits.

Consciousness I see as non ego and if I am only conscious then I am living in the original image of man in the the world, i.e., everything is equally conscious. The advent of ego awareness makes consciousness ‘mine’ but not really because ‘I am of the universe’ and to say something is ‘mine’ is therefore absurd, tautological - it says the universe owns itself.

If consciousness is truly passive it can’t be affected. It is the background –as passive- for change, and change appears intelligible by virtue of the passiveness of the illuminating nature of consciousness.

So the void (consciousness) is like a mirror that stands, as it were, ‘behind’ the ego and functions as a perfect mirror – it reflects (illuminates) absolutely indiscriminately and equally whatever is immediate to the ego. And since the void is infinite, consciousness will be the same for any possible ego, i.e., infinite.

Since consciousness is coextensive with the void then an explanation of consciousness in physical terms would be an explanation of vacuum in physical terms, i.e., there is nothing physical about it.

By virtue of the infinite quality of consciousness I can abstract my “self’ and go, with abstraction, anywhere to do anything. That is to say, I can ‘picture’ in my mind the configuration of the sun, moon, from above/outside. I can visualize being outside, at an almost infinite distance, the whole cosmic reality, seeing the ALL as a mere luminous dot/unity. I had this dream/experience/vision while a child.  Must I not have already been there in some sort of way to do this?

Valence: clinging by vectors/same energy levels/inclination/tendency

People participating in religious, artistic, musical, scientific, etc. activities participate in a movement of mind/matter spread over space and time. The direction of these endeavors depends on the valencies of the participating people, in their thinking and doing being combined in a total historical movement, e.g., communism, etc. How can the world shake these patterns? How can we be free of harmful tendencies/habits? Just by seeing and doing….?

..and again how does one articulate in a vacuum? Easy! Out of an utter sense of newness, freshness, vitality, and the assurance that nothing whatever is in our way, finally speaking. We will go wherever our inclination takes us. The only choice we have is how we will be inclined. And isn’t that just seeming as well?

At the center of all inclination/intention is the thirst for the real. This is irreducible…..and untouchable in the sense that you can’t see yourself, who and what exactly you are without first relaxing the process generating that end. This is the first thing, the beginning of true life. This is the state of vulnerability. It is where the first and last risks are taken. If you learn properly to take a risk, if you can relax to a deep enough level, you can act on what you see laid out before you with certainty and precision. You know your acts go to their mark, because you have seen everything there is to be seen.

Repeated acts are volitional to their own repetition. Deeds of a kind attract, ergo, bad doing equates to bad company; ergo, its possible to attract “higher beings” good and bad.  Every "doing" generates and is sustained by its own spirit/life force.  Go once to charity or love or compassion and it is easier to do so again.  The same is true for the opposite.  Spirits grows by participation.

Whatever is, whether one or many, participates in the Real. This participation provides one commonality. Allow that it may be that the only way objects can appear to be separate is in part because they really are not.

Our own perceptions are among the class of external objects as well as ideas, knowledge, sensation, etc.

Consciousness is primordial, I think. In the sense that it is a universal principle that the “One” should be awakened as we awaken (to our godliness), “God” rises to self consciousness in human awareness; on the emergence of sentience.

About gestalt versus sequential views of the Real: Perhaps some see the universe as a gestalt, perhaps a very young child, for instance, but “man” sees the same universe in terms of sequential images in his vain attempt to rationalize with propositional relations what Camus calls the absurd realm, that realm outside our consciousness. To accomplish this ominous task would presume the necessity, and even the possibility, of placing in one to one correlation, an abstract, verbal (or mathematical) proposition with every atomic proposition and every possible combination of all atomic propositions. Our universe will probably be approaching inclusion in this particular pulse of its symbiotic, onomatopoeic existence. Man should recognize, as a pragmatic fact, that the universe is a tautology and that each thing that is will continue to be, only in different space and time. Man should learn, therefore, to function temporally, but from an eternal perspective… Strive to see the whole instead of its nebulous parts as the ground of reality.

Existentialism has two schools. The christian school of Jaspers, Marcel and the Atheist one of Sartre, Heidegger.

Atheistic existentialists have in common the belief that existence precedes essence or that subjectivity is the starting point.

Your Christian existentialist holds that production precedes existence. To build the first table the artisan had to have conceived its image, its essence, before setting to work. God is considered a superior sort of artisan.

And again, the atheist view is that man is the only being in which existence precedes essence. Consciousness precedes thought, for instance. Man appears, defines himself and all other things. He makes himself what he is, as the essence he defines is, by a necessity of language, subjectivity. He is responsible for himself and, at the same time, all other men.

Say that man is chained to human subjectivity, this is the essential meaning of existentialism. By choosing his own will man chooses mankind's will as he always picks the good over the evil. There is not an apriori realm, and there is nothing for man to cling to either within or without himself.  When clinging arises wisdom is shut out.

Those unfortunates who spend their lives waiting on God sadly miss the point that God is waiting on them.  Many live in hope of getting a better gig in "heaven".  Really, we already have a gig in heaven.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Table

But is there an actual "table", for instance, if every instance is somehow different from every other? Is the rose ever actual or is the actualization of the rose, and the table, in itself endless? And man? In what sense is he never fulfilled, complete? Doesn't this touch on the lack of concreteness in beauty, truth, wisdom, understanding, and, of course, Love, and Liberty? Isn't it why God himself must be taken on Faith? For how does one grasp, hold, have, keep what is itself a kind of infinite potentiality? Consider that the "reason" we can never have final knowledge about anything is because nothing in itself is ever final.  Understanding is available but comes with a leap beyond mere reason, a leap from having to being.  Being or Having...you figure it out.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Word


 
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John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Luke 19: 35-40  And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.  And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.  And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;  Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.  And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

The intake of your breath is the exhalation of the universe.  Your exhalation is the breathing in of the Universe.

In my last post I wrote about the first act of creation, of the principle of illumination.  But what is the Word?  Isn't it just a primordial principle capable of self actualizing.  Think of Greek Logos or Hebrew Davar;  first principle with the power to manifest itself, or, potentiality with the power to self actualize.  Then think of the rose.  The actualization of the rose is endless.  There is no actual rose, only potential.   Likewise, there is no concrete "word" or "truth" or "beauty".  There is no now, no present.  Try and hold onto one.  If there were we could own these but since we can't we are only borrowers.  The word is in the manifested cosmos, and vice versa, as the rose is in the bud and the bud is in the rose; for every actuality there is a new potentiality.  And, my sight of the rose is the rose's means of seeing itself.

We know nothing, really, any more than we can hold onto the present.  It's best to let God keep his secrets.  Many claim God "loves" them.  I don't know but intuit rather that God is Love.  We are blessed to participate in this Love and in this moment; my concern is not that he loves me but that I love him.  The potentiality of love of the deity is in the very rocks at our feet.  The emergence of sentient life gives voice to these stones.  It's because we don't or can't fully know that we have a sense of wonder, awe, and an appreciation of beauty and truth. These keep us searching, make the journey ever new whether it really is or not.  Were the truth about the ultimate purpose and meaning of existence vouchsafed to us reality might be as boring to us as it must be to God without his life in and through his creation.  Christ is the word made flesh, it is written.  I write that the whole of Reality is the manifesting Word.

The Star of David and the symbol for the Hindu sacred syllable Om.  The esoteric meaning of the Star of David is that God descends into matter in order to reascend a self realized spiritual being.  That is another way of stating Christ is the word made flesh.  I think the Om symbol has the same meaning.  The sacred syllable Om is the equivalent of the Word.  Our voice is the rocks crying out.

"The Universe is in us", he says in this video.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Preaching, Passion, and Illumination

"It would be a poor thing to be an atom in a universe without physicists, and physicists are made of atoms - A physicist is the atom's way of knowing about atoms..." -George Wald

"...no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end." Ecclesiastes 3:11

Meditation on these points. The subject is that which is in the object that can stand outside the object and view itself. The faculty for this is consciousness.
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I continue my reading of Aristotle at the Metaphysics as an oblique reference to these thoughts.

I don't find the word preacher appealing.  It means minister or sermonizer.  It also means Ecclesiastic.  But Solomons are rare.   My problem is, I guess, and they are not alone in this at all, preachers make you feel the heat but if you want to see the light, move on because the heat of their passion effectively blocks out any enlightenment.  Conceded, heat is a form of light, and does give comfort if you are out in the cold.  So does passion, and they do communicate passionately, and this is good because faith begins in the heart.  It is felt, not reasoned.  That feeling is the first tentative step to wisdom, understanding, light.  Preachers compare to sophists.  Rhetoric is their main faculty; and they both pass the collection plate from Protagoras on down.  But truth can't be conveyed rhetorically.  Truth is not something that can be taught, or bought.  Only "things" are teachable.  Truth might inform things.  So might beauty.  But you can't teach beauty any more than truth itself.  Both are available to be realized, not learned.  Truth and beauty and the other concomitants of consciousness are aspects, facets, of the spirit that confer universality.  Sermonizers pray for this or that, implying they have power to move God in their favor, and, more to the point, that you can too.  Well, "Deeds can't dream what dreams can do", but, intention plays a greater part, I think, than actual work on behalf of the petitioner by the divine creative force behind the whole existential Reality.  What really happens in these settings is a longing for the Real, for truth, is set up but never fulfilled.  Instead they are satisfied with their dogma, which can be taught, and is bought, dearly.  But dogma does not confer universality and truth does and the sophist's belief he has a direct pipeline to truth, in the final analysis, tragically shuts off the possibility of discovery.

To be clear, I don't doubt the divinity of Christ, or any man, not that all men are Gods.  Is a drop of water the ocean?  I submit Christ understood how it was, and more importantly, how it wasn't.  People following this path like to say, "I know God loves me."  First of all, how selfish.  Secondly, say to them, if God loves everything the same then it begins to look a lot like indifference, and watch their eyes glaze over.  Their God is anthropogenic and the lie to their "faith" is that the more they pursue it the more they claim certitude.  Its true, rather, that real faith results in greater doubt, trepidation, humility, the closer one approaches the divine.  In the end one arrives at a sort of infinite resignation that knowing God is impossible.

Its written that in the beginning was the Word and the first act of creation was of light.  Leaving aside what is the Word think of the light as principle, not as visible light, per se.  As principle, illumination is participated in by the various forms, the concomitants of consciousness, e.g. Love, Liberty, Truth, Beauty, Grace, Wisdom, and so on.  All of these pertain to the substance of things; they are aspects of the indwelling spirit, of the potentiality inhering in the energia of matter and of the entelechy, the end within.  It is the form of things that facilitate display of these and in doing so universality is conferred on the subject by their presence.  The form makes a thing, a painting, for instance, individual, but it is the beauty that gives it appeal, universality.  Forms make the concomitants intelligible, available, individual.  The concomitants make the individuals universal.  People like to ask what a work of art means.  It doesn't mean anything.  It is a question; Who am I?  If it is a beautiful piece the answer is; I am everything that is.  My meaning and purpose consists in the instantiation of beauty in this individual object.  Likewise for love and the others.  You can't teach love, liberty, wisdom, grace, beauty, but your life is enriched beyond compare if you can find paths that participate in the divine light in which these qualities facilitate the awakening, the apotheosis, of the divine.  You can be Love, Freedom, Wise, Grace, Beauty; Truth can be lived.  No learning necessary.  To borrow from T.S. Eliot, the drop of water slips into the shining sibilant sea and arriving where it began knows the place for the first time.