Saturday, April 26, 2014

Le Bateleur, or Thus Endeth the Lesson

I will assume, for this, a basic familiarity with the text, as well as perhaps some of the items and discussions on the mailing list. Rather, we will look at several prisms or aphorisms or anecdotes from this chapter, to help elucidate in precise detail what quarry Tomberg is hunting.
First of all, like his master, Tomberg affirms that the “most dangerous spiritual malady” is “self-complacency”. This is a huge claim, and we will see later how it is justified in detail. Tomberg was well aware of the dangers of megalomania and insanity, & apparently thought worse of this first sin (question: can we rank the seven deadly sins?). Elsewhere, in a similar spirit, he remarks that “vice is oppressive or disgusting and virtue is boring” : it is concentration that matters. By this he certainly does not reject the “moral tradition of the virtues”, but rather is commenting on the legalism or moralism that is always too busy relating moral principles in concrete hierarchies of rules to be bothered with attaining the whole purpose of the Law. He (also) elsewhere relates that the Law appears to us as (Phillip Rieff would say) an interdict, & that this fact is important (has an esoteric meaning) because what it means is that God is not an egregore, or reflection of the human mind that responds to corruption and sin. God is Who He is, & that is Good News. The Law is Good News. So much for Luther. So the first virtue is “poverty of spirit” (the Beatitudes) and alack of self-complacency. Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly. Other sins (like hypocrisy or pride) are lesser: of course all sins have an element of the first Arcana of Sin, so this is not a justification of sinning, that grace may abound.

2, He mentions the perpetual service of Sacre Couer de Montmarte as a picture of the inner reality of a lack of self-complacency, which is the one thing needful. This silence, by an ancient law, engenders the influx of holy forces. As all numbers are multiples of One, so all spiritual Arcana flow from poverty of spirit. “You will receive power from on High”: “in Paris one works, one amuses one’s self, one sleeps, one dies”…all the while, the center of the city holds in the form of a sacrament in silence. This is an important metaphor, given how much time Tomberg spent in France. Evidently, he viewed the Church there as essentially creating the jovial atmosphere of Paris.

3. The world is not a mosaic. Diversity can only bring us together once a real, true, beautiful, & good Unity has previously unified Man. If the world is not One, it is not knowable. So there is a place for beginning with Dogma or exoteric practice, where a framework is established in anticipation of the scaffolding being pulled down one day when the living temple is completed. There is no room here for starting (as Revolutionaries and binary thinkers do) with the Dyad as the Monad. First things first.

4. He draws an enormous amount of attention in the first chapter to the Emerald Tablet. This tablet teaches us that the phenomenal world is not nothing, because it is moved (like sand) in the wind: nevertheless, it must be affirmed that the Wind is not like the patterns in the sand in a literal way. Wind and sand are not equivalent. Tomberg will affirm in this and future chapters that the uniqueness of Christianity lay in its desire and power and calling to sublimate both inner and outer way (Sand and Wind) into one picture in which nothing was lost of either the one or the other. The old Greek question of the One-and-The-Many was resolved in perichoresis, Trinity, & Incarnation. “As philosophers, Christians, and scientists, we embrace the Emerald Tablet”. The line of succession is Enoch/Hermes Trismegistus, Orpheus, Pythagoras, Philolaus (Divi Platonis nostri praeceptor), Plato, the NeoPythagoreans (Apollonius), the NeoPlatonists (Plotinus), continued down (for example) through Ficino (since Ficino is the one citing the line of succession).

5. The method of analogy is the only means of apprehending or beginning to apprehend Truth as the intuition develops; although it is quite possible to err with this method, it nevertheless is the door to truth: “it is qualified to lead to the discovery of essential Truths”. We reason that the Sun sets with glorious colors (it bleeds), Night falls, but we wait for the Dayspring, which must return, pace Hume. Even Science heightens probability in order to sharpen analogies to yield the most to intuitions (the Double Helix code, for instance), notes J. Maynard Keynes. Tomberg is making a vast and overarching case here. Nature teaches us that the acorn does not “resemble” the tree (to the naked eye), unless one is paying attention, that is, intuiting the process as it unfolds in play. All tree like things have seeds, and all seed like things contain trees.

6. He affirms the basic table of correspondences which obtain and hold between metals and planets, common to all ancient and traditional Cultures, with minor variants and errors, but notes that the correspondences with the Tarot are far from agreed upon. Tomberg is no idiot: he is clearing the ground of objections by showing he has taken them into consideration. This is the act of a scholar and a man of good breeding. It is also a clue to his purpose: he will provide the Tarot with the symbols and arcana which it lacks via the stars, due to confusion.

7. He connects this intuition towards play with classical European ideas as well, such as Schiller’s Speiltrieb (the urge to play)and Jung’s “individuation” (synthesis of the conscious and unconscious elements in the personality), in which the perfect vision of the beautiful Good transforms duty into a delight. Nonetheless, there is Play and there is play. Be careful when you play, otherwise, you will become a charlatan. Alas, says Tomberg, too many are both charlatan and genius, so let Le Batteleur be a perpetual Guardian of the Threshold to always return to! He quotes an anonymous author:
To perceive and to know, to try and to be able to, are all different things. There are mirages above, as there are mirages below; you only know that which is verified by the agreement of all forms of experience in its totality – experience of the sense, moral experience, psychic experience, the collective experience of other seekers for the truth, and finally the experience of those whose knowing merits the title of wisdom and whose striving has been crowned by the title of saint. Academia and the Church stipulate methodical and moral conditions for one who desires to progress. Carry them out strictly, before and after each flight into the region beyond the domain of work and effort. If you do this, you will be a sage and a mage. If you do not do this – you will only be a charlatan.
The Arcanum of Geniality of Intelligence, analogous but not identical to the play of a little child, is the First and Final Good, the Monad and the One, identical to the Archetypal (space) and Mythical (time) of the Godhead, which is the arena in which souls are exercised in a vast gymnasium designed to produce “greater than angels”. That is our begging beginning, and our triumphant End-ividuation.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Tomberg’s Labor

Valentin Tomberg (as any reader of this blog by now knows) plays a not insignificant role in linking Christianity with esotericism, even paganism (of the older kind). It would be easy to just go through and cherry pick random quotes from Tomberg: this would actually turn out much better than one might imagine, since Tomberg manages to stuff every sentence with profound meaning and an inner direction which helps even isolated sentences maintain their context.

There is a particular section of text which helps to elucidate his purpose more sharply and pointedly than is his wont, as Tomberg usually manages to hide in plain sight. On my first reading of the text, I apparently gleaned much less than I missed, and am ashamed to say that this only jumped out on a second reading.
The macrocosmic sphere of paradise (St Paul’s third heaven) and the microcosmic layer of Eden are the initia (beginning) to which one is initiated in the macrocosmic initiation as well as in the microcosmic initiation. Ecstasy to the heights beyond one’s self and entasy into the depths within one’s self lead to knowledge of the same fundamental truth. Christian esotericism unites these two methods of initiation.
There is his entire program in a nutshell (incidentally we see that the Christian method is more about the union of the modes, rather than emphasis on the division between the two techniques). He is writing a secular “John” for a modern age. This is very like Goethe re-casting Job in Faust, except thankfully Tomberg actually claims to know what he is doing, and seems to back this up. In other words, Valentin Tomberg is actually claiming that a Christian can mingle the exoteric and esoteric modes of knowing in their own person, without (and this is the important point) compromising or losing either one individually.
If this claim reminds you of the claims regarding Christ and the homo ouison with or without iotas (made by successive councils) it should, for that is actually his aim. The Christian is a “little Christ”, and Tomberg wishes to perfect Nature (exoteric religion) with Super-Nature (esoteric meaning), without however losing either the Self or the “Self beyond the Selves”. Jesus is the man-God, and Christians are also called to be fully God and truly man. He is not splitting hairs, he is describing or coming to terms with, something he had already fully experienced.

The figure of the Emperor is the “truest man” (King David), and the hermit (prophet) is the most like God (fully God), remarks Tomberg in his chapter on the Pope. The pope (or priest) actually balances earth with heaven. So an invisible principle of union is here shown to be concretely uniting two seeming opposites. Here we have Soloviev’s “Ideas”, with the veil lift by for a moment, Tomberg explaining the Arcanum that shows even the invisible worlds correspond to Law rather than Chaos. For here it is not a matter of seeing contrasts, and is never a matter of contrasts. John Michael Greer brilliantly points out that focusing on differences actually obscures them (this is because, as Iamblichus teaches, you have to start with One, not Two). If you focus on similarities, the differences are seen truly and starkly for what they are.
Any present or future set of events, however unique it may be in terms of the fine details, has points of similarity with events in the past, and those points of similarity allow the past events to be taken as a guide to the present and future. This works best if you’ve got a series of past events, as different from each other as any one of them is from the present or future situation you’re trying to predict; if you can find common patterns in the whole range of past parallels, it’s usually a safe bet that the same pattern will recur again. Any time you approach a present or future event, then, you have two choices: you can look for the features that event has in common with other events, despite the differences of detail, or you can focus on the differences and ignore the common features.  The first of those choices, it’s worth noting, allows you to consider both the similarities and the differences.  Once you’ve got the common pattern, it then becomes possible to modify it as needed to take into account the special characteristics of the situation you’re trying to understand or predict: to notice, for example, that the dark age that will follow our civilization will have to contend with nuclear and chemical pollution on top of the more ordinary consequences of decline and fall.If you start from the assumption that the event you’re trying to predict is unlike anything that’s ever happened before, though, you’ve thrown out your chance of perceiving the common pattern. What happens instead, with motononous regularity, is that pop-culture narratives such as the sudden overnight collapse beloved of Hollywood screenplay writers smuggle themselves into the picture, and cement themselves in place with the help of confirmation bias. The result is the endless recycling of repeatedly failed predictions that plays so central a role in the collective imagination of our time, and has helped so many people blind themselves to the unwelcome future closing in on us.
So the “hermetic” method is actually just sanity, applied in depth and height, of the common-sense-rule of having a unity-principle and not forcing apples to be seen as oranges. If one sees sleep follow work, then awakening follow sleep in Nature, one can assume (by analogy) that Death follows Life, and then Life supersedes Death. This is the affirmation of the Great Chain of Being, the “Book of Nature”, the Analogia Entis.

So (too) we can say that it is the inner “priest” in man which reconciles the manly-earthly King with the God-mad prophet, in the dark of night, before the black turns to red, white, then gold at the dawning of the Sun. There is always a balance, and always a “higher level”. This is because God is always God: “higher up, and further in”. As Tomberg says, choose spiritual death, and choose hell: choose Life, and you have chosen God. It’s so simple, children can do it, and so complex, that even seraphim yearn to be able to see clearly.

This occurs within Christian esotericism, and within the Christian esotericist, who privileges neither the badge of Christianity nor the heritage or technique of ancient practices which are given new life through baptism. Does anyone really suppose that it would be “spiritually exciting” to live under the rule of the tutelary stars in the same sense that the heathen did? So that an ill omen meant almost certain death? The heathen are a picture of our natural man, sunk in darkness. Paradoxically, it is the man who learns that he is under the rule of stars who then begins to escape that rule of the stars, and the wise man becometh free. This is why astrology is as much an art as a science, and why the Middle Ages baptized it, but did not use it to replace the mass and the organized Christian religion. In any event, men like Pythagoras were not subject to the stars in the same sense that the local god-fearing goat-herders were. He learned to judge the angels, & it was this that made him free. So the “Christian” sees that while there is “progress” (and man learns to be “free” of powers), yet these things were altogether written for our sakes, because we have the same process to over go in miniature. So, in a sense we are more free, in a sense we are less: welcome to the Kali Yuga. The point is to find God.

In the same manner, it is the true “Christian” who both grasps intuitively the power of the antique Tradition, & yet sees it living through its transformations in Christianity and onto into and despite the Kali Yuga; he or she it is who can keep the contradictions together because he approaches from a standpoint of faith, rather than doubt, and thus doesn’t sink into experience through the moving, opening, readying of wavering doubt (like Eve before the apple). This is the man who can keep entasy (unpeeling one’s soul layers) and ecstasy (voyaging into God) from dissolving together into the slime of muddle and confusion that tends to stamp those trying to be “spiritual” in the Dark Ages, using the one to heighten and enhance the other. The same wind wrecks one vessel, and lifts another one over the waves. The same wind drives down some birds, and causes the hawk to soar. Jesus the God-man is the true in hoc signo vinces for the esotericist or exotericist, since both are valid, and both “mean” the same thing. This is one of the meanings of the hypostatic union: that there is fully each, without loss of either.

Faith precedes experience because sense experience alone takes too long, and tends to lose one in a “dark wood”. Additionally, “faith” is actually a divine principle which begins to work before it is either deserved or understood. It thus appears “blind” to the blind, and “powerless” to the powerless. It is actually the power and potency of God, Who is willing to act long before man is worthy of it. Thus, it is power, because man (at that juncture) has no power. In this way, man is invited to cooperate with God, and that is the price of ascent and the meaning of the night time, which sees great growth. But this merely accords with the Nature principle of paganism: a seed has to first fall into the ground and die, before it can have the life of the tree. Likewise, God’s power is so great, it first has to die, because it has to “make a little space” for man by withdrawing, or else man could not be. God is so powerful, He can afford to suffer in silence. God alone can afford it. Here is the meaning both of kenosis and of grace.
We will be looking at Tomberg’s journey, through the eyes of the Meditations (and using some of the notes sent out on the mailing list, not to mention Cologero’s observations and thoughts), however, it will primarily be an attempt to unfold or unpack some of his meaning, so that it stands out more clearly, so that others can “meditate” (which was his whole purpose anyway).

Friday, April 4, 2014

La Revolution Devore Ses Infants

During the years leading up to 1789, Paris had increasingly become the exclusive city in France, a city-among-cities, with no peer. One of the dynamics behind the destruction of the ancien regime was Paris’ desire to subordinate the legitimate and ancient diversity of the pays (regions) of old France. Paris would become the truly capital city, rather than the body of the king, since in the medieval world, the city or seat of sovereignty, was in the actual person of the king, wherever he happened to be touring. With the Enlightenment justifying its bourgeois aspirations, and Art turning to the bizarre and degenerate, the entire city descended from famine into chaos.

We can see an analogous process at work today. America has decided to be the “Paris” of a global order which encompasses nothing less than the world plantation. All of the world’s goods flow into American territory, just as French produce and goods flowed into the environs of the burgeoning Parisian enclaves. With a philosophy behind it to justify its aspirations (multiculturalism, tribalism, and the continuance of Revolution), the “new American” seems poised to plunge his country into the same chaos that engulfed France in 1789. This is because, as we all know, the Revolution must play on.
With notable differences (Paris had a lot more potential to control the local French countryside than America has to control all of the world, and Paris was more homogeneous than America is today), it is true to say that America and its satellites and imitators comprise a global arrangement increasingly aspiring to universal “values”, which is to say, global sway. This is what the neo-liberal consensus comes to mean. When they say “human rights”, what they mean is the “customary rights of those over whom we hold sway, our serfs”. There are no visible aristocrats, just beautiful people making large incomes living in good style, in cosmopolitan centers of “Westerness” all over the world. Oswald Spengler points out how the megalopoloi come to dominate the countryside in late phases of civilization, reaching their tentacles into the land to suck wealth out of it and legitimize itself by aggrandizement vis a vis the provinces. In the final analysis of this cycle, it is the ostentatious display of arbitrary power and wealth, at the expense of everything else, which marks the final phase. The outer shell of civilization, precisely as it grasps power, wastes away.

In something reminiscient of pyramid schemes and cultic orders, with perhaps a bit of sheer bee-like and herd-like behaviour thrown in, everyone’s greatest concern is to escape the smaller town and go “where something is happening”, which is to say, money, power, and other attractions.
This phase is operates to help America become a “world city”. More and more people are invited; more and more countries are invaded. The entire country, from the Everglades to Gnome, Alaska, becomes a truly diverse cosmopolis. This befits America’s status as “most advanced region” of the planet, future home of the “world-city” that turns all other places into backwaters, from which to draw more staying power and ferment. True, others imitate us (Europe, most of all), yet half-heartedly. Some regions even attempt to un-imitate us: witness Putin’s intransigence over the Ukraine. And wouldn’t the invasion of the Ukraine make Russia more diverse?

What happens when 1789 comes round again, & the countryside (this time) is prepared to resist, not just in the Vendee, but all across the planet, when China and Brazil and Portugal all say “no” to the unbridled spread of the end of history?  Or will they? Will America be forced to fulminate more Revolution at home, in order both to project enough power, and to maintain enough solidarity to convince the other regions to cooperate? What happens when the Revolution begins to devour its own children? My guess is that the stakes have risen, since America is becoming divided, and losing its power to project grandiosity and force. So there is a lot on the table, to lose, at this point, for the Revolution, with Russia thinking about dusting off the crown of Christ and China waffling over whether liberal democracy is really a valid replacement for a civilization that lasted over 4000 years.

What ought to be done to prepare, in an outward sense?

Plinio Correa de Oliveira makes some tantalizing remarks about the Revolution and Counter-Revolution which should help the contemporary “American”.

1. Those who are “of the Reaction” are, by their very nature, exposed to ridicule and a feeling of helplessness, sometimes even in their own eyes, as their ignorance contributes to a lack of realization of who they are: in this sense, the “wholeness” they partially lack is mimicked by competing systems of thought which may confuse their soul, providing a sense that although they can never fit, yet what they cannot fit into possesses some of the qualities they intuitively seek, such as legitimacy (in this case, illusory). It forces them to view themselves in a tragic light. This, of course, is all the better for “the Revolution”, as it consigns their worst enemies to the outer darkness, partially self-imposed. We get to pay the upkeep on our own soul-prison.

2. Many are latent Reactionaries: that is, their upper levels of soul are dominated by the current thought paradigms, but deeper down, they are instinctively “men of the Right”. These people simply need firm guidance, and to be shown strong moral character, coupled with principled action and depth of soul. They will be drawn, just as instinctively, to those of the first category who have stabilized themselves and emerged with the Hyperborean spirit. This second category could be termed “Demeterian“, instinctively drawn to those who can incarnate the power that they seek and lack. This would be a warrior class, maybe even a priest class, and in converting these classes, the natural capos or leaders would achieve a preponderance of force that would allow for an overthrow of the Revolution, and a change in the balance of power. The Revolution succeeds by hiding its aims; the Counter Revolution can only succeed by revealing its aims to this class, but the manifestation has to be multi-dimensional, profound, and utterly authentic. Nothing less would convince the sturdy, hapless enforcers of Revolution who unwittingly serve the very forces they hate at a deeper level.

3. He compares the Revolution to the vine in the Amazon rain forests called the strangler fig. I have often made the mistake of thinking (and so have others, I suppose) that “this couldn’t last”. But in a startling metaphor from the Liber Naturae, (Buch der Natur), our author shows us that the goal of the strangler fig is to kill the host and establish itself as a free standing tree. Of course, the original tree will not be allowed to live after it has served its purpose: this is why the Revolution hid and covered its aims. It wanted “this and that”, or “old and new”, together: tolerance for the lower castes, that’s all. But the true aim is the annihilation of the original tree, which suggests that envy and hatred are, in reality, the real motivating causes of the Revolution after all, rather than compassion. The two organisms are incompatible, and only one has the essence of Life. This dissembling is a weak point in the Left, as they are now the “authentic and legitimate order”, and our author says that firm and unwavering contradiction in a manly spirit, even against overwhelming social disapproval, is the only way of unmasking the lie – as Veuillot says, the emptiness flees contradiction. Any real resistance will be met by deceived men of the number two category, and their involvement in persecution will only serve to enlighten them as to the real aims of the Revolution and the real worth of the “rebel” (who is the opposite of one). The Left has been winning without even trying for so long, that a real dose of suffering of any kind, at whatever level (including the wallet) would quickly make it clear that only the men of the Right have the freedom to overcome circumstances. This is quite clear right now in the crisis over Crimea: Russians are willing to sacrifice to restore the Third Rome, however imperfectly, and Americans are too lazy to even understand the issues involved, let alone drip any blood. Russia wins. America has been purging herself of the men who are of the mettle to make American force stick overseas; it remains to be seen whether she can perfectly finish the Revolution at home, as more and more of the aims come out of the closet in order to ascend the decayed altars like demons haunting the throne.

4. It is imperative to promote the association of men who are truly of the Right. Cologero has gone to great lengths to do just that, & it will be up to us to continue this push. By providing a “home” and the camaraderie that all men need, noble or not, but which we alone tend to lack, given the circumstances, an important element of morale is introduced, as well as the opportunity to learn from one another, and no longer feel “alone”. Many here have voiced how lonely it is out there, and this is true. But the hearth fire burns, despite the cold winter night. There are various ways of seeking this kind of fellowship, but it is fundamental to mental sanity during the apex of Revolution, the height of its power, just before it begins to turn upon itself. We are going to need all of our wits and resources in the years ahead, as Chaos is standing at offstage right, and the raving lunatics of the Left are congregating at stage left. After all, when Satan is on the throne, what can he really say about Revolution?

That’s probably insulting to Satan. What we’ve got on our throne is a collective demon or elemental force, generated by centuries of passions and muddled thought. Satan is a man of Law, and wouldn’t dream of having dinner with revolutionaries. He’d rather joust with a man of the Right.