In Letter III, our Vertical Pal
(VP) says that "magic" may be understood as "the power of the invisible and spiritual over the visible and material."
Thus, neuroplasticity is a form of everyday magic, in that it most certainly involves the exertion of spiritual and psychological power over the brain/body. Siegel defines neuroplasticity as "The overall process with which brain connections are changed by experience, including the way we pay attention" (emphases mine). (By the way, I don't want to pretend Siegel would endorse Raccoon orthoparadoxy -- he has a reputation to think about.)
It is important to emphasize that from the standpoint of neurology, this magical power is strictly impossible. Indeed, how, within a naturalistic paradigm, could it be explained? To the extent that the brain changes -- which it obviously does -- it would have to be explained in such a way that the mind is only a passive bystander or side effect of purely physical changes.
In fact, this is precisely how the tenured generally explain the "illusion" of free will. For them, the notion of freedom is a retrospective construct, in that we engage in the act and afterwards imagine that we were "free" to have done so.
I say: someone needs to get out of his mom's basement, or at least leave the campus once in a while. Reality is a big scary place, and you can't just tame it with language -- which is, not coincidentally, what our president is trying desperately to do vis-a-vis ISLAMIC terror.
What is it with liberals and language? On the one hand, secular folks insist that they don't believe in magical things such as religion, and yet, what is liberalism but a giant exercise in magical thinking?
Now Bob, that's a little bombastic. Would you like to take that back? In the words of Rudy, "No, not at all.
I want to repeat it."
Just consider some of the magical ideas that are central to contemporary liberalism: global warming, command economics, sexual equivalence, the normalization of sexual perversion, etc. Plus, the ranks of the so-called New Age are filled with liberals who believe in everything from healing crystals to aromatherapy to reincarnation.
Here we need to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate, or white and black, magic. First of all, thats raciss! Leaving that aside, UF says that there are actually three kinds of magic. Looked at vertically, there is the sacred magic that descends from above, and demonic magic that ascends (or is invoked) from below. In between there is "personal magic," whereby "the magician himself is the source of the magical operation."
I would place personal charisma in this latter category, in that it is indeed a mysterious process through which some people are able to exert an immaterial influence on others for good or ill -- say, JFK, whose charisma is such that it completely overwhelms the critical faculties of the average low information voter. Because of this political hoodoo, he always appears in the top ten greatest presidents.
It seems to be the same with Obama, who is the most polarizing president in our nation's history (or at least since they've been doing surveys). This can only mean that he continues to exert his magical charismatic influence over liberals, with some 88% still approving of his "performance." In reality, it cannot be the performance of which they approve; rather, something immaterial must have possession of their souls.
All magic, according to UF, involves putting into practice the following principle: "that the subtle rules the dense." And "It is only magic crowned from above which is not usurpatory." This makes perfect sense, and applies to every virtue, every human capacity, every activity.
Take, for example, freedom, or free will. You could say that freedom is both the ground and goal of magic; again, free will itself is "already" a kind of magical, vertical irruption in the cosmos, but we don't leave it at that. Rather, freedom has a goal, a vector, a purpose. Which is? It is, in the words of UF, liberation in order to ascend.
Now, the difference between Gnosticism and Christianity is that the former falls into the whatchamacallit heresy whereby the human being is able to achieve earthly perfection in a do-it-yoursoph manner, without the assistance of grace, i.e., without surrendering the ego to what surpasses it.
Thus, real magic, according to UF, involves the integration -- there's that word again -- of two wills. It is a we not an I, for which reason UF says that "Magic is the science of love."
Does this imply that science is the love of magic? Oh, I think so. It speaks to the whole poetica scientia thingy we were discussing the other day.
All of this ultimately goes to the Incarnation itself, which is the "supreme work of divine magic," i.e., the complete cooperation of God and man: "the work of the Redemption, being that of love, requires the perfect union in love of two wills, distinct and free -- divine will and human will."
Note that this marriage requires "two united wills," which "are not manifestations of an all-powerful will ordaining, but are due to a power which is born whenever there is unity between divine will and human will." And this brings us full circle, back to "the power of the invisible and spiritual over the visible and material" (VP).
This could hardly be more different from, say, the Religion That Shall Not Be Named, which involves the exertion of one will -- that would be Allah/Muhammad's -- over everyone, which will in turn trigger some kind of magical end to the world.
This is precisely what ISIS wants; as Wood explains, their theology is Islamic right down to the last jot and tittle:
"The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic.... the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam." These assouls "will not -- cannot -- waver from governing precepts that were embedded in Islam by the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers."
Thus, "Following takfiri doctrine, the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people." They know better than our theologian-president that "The Koran specifies crucifixion as one of the only punishments permitted for enemies of Islam," and "instructs Muslims to fight Christians and Jews 'until they pay the jizya [tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.' The Prophet, whom all Muslims consider exemplary, imposed these rules and owned slaves."
In hindsight, this rambling post has explicated the three forms of magic: there is the legitimate magic of the divine-human partnership, AKA (⇅); there is the dopey human magic of liberalism; and there is the demonic magic of apocalyptic Islamists.
Via American Digest, communist magic:
"No man [more than Lenin] personifies better the replacement of the religious impulse by the will to power. In an earlier age, he would surely have been a religious leader. With his extraordinary passion for force, he might have figured in Mohammed’s legions. He was even closer perhaps to Jean Calvin, with his belief in organizational structure, his ability to create one and then dominate it utterly, his puritanism, his passionate self-righteousness, and above all his intolerance."