On Translighting English to English
Arguing for the authenticity of the comment are a number of similarly inane remarks such as "An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind," "Nobody can hurt me without my permission," (which contradicts the first), and "Before the throne of the Almighty, man will be judged not by his acts but by his intentions" -- a sentiment liberals love, because it exonerates them of the evils produced by their imprudent intentions.
"Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man." Really? Maybe if you're lucky enough to be dealing with a civilized western nation such as Great Britain.
But then Gandhi advised the Brits to allow Nazi Germany to "take possession of your beautiful island with your many beautiful buildings," addressed Hitler as "friend," and urged the Jews to passively consent to his genocide.
What do I think of Hindu civilization? I think it would be a good idea.
Which sounds snarky, intolerant, and even malevolent, doesn't it? We are permitted to say such things of western civilization, but not of pre-, or un- or anti-civilization. In fact, we are not even permitted to notice that some cultures are more civilized than others, which is only a recipe for rebarbarization.
Which raises the question: what is civilization? Over the weekend I read a not-raccoomended book on the subject, Metaphysics: The Creation of Hierarchy.
Why not raccoomended? Mainly because it is written in the ponderous manner of the tenured. Pabst is one of those Christian thinkers who seems to think that if only he expresses himself as pretentiously as a Heidegger or Hegel, then the right people will take him seriously. But they won't, so why bother?
In his defense, the book is based on his doctoral dissertation, and I do understand why one would want to imitate the style of the academic threshold guardians -- the tenured gargoyles who hold your fate in their grubby hands. It's like physicians who learn in medical school how to write prescriptions in an indecipherable hand, or politicians who learn how to bloviate around a question.
In fact, this mystagogic skill is absolutely essential to the cult of liberalism and to the faux expertise of the experts who presume to rule our lives (where would Obama be without it?).
But there is no humanly important thought that can't be expressed in a straightforward manner. To the extent that difficulties remain, it is in the nature of the subject, but most subjects Aren't Like That.
Rather, the things humans need to know in order to flourish qua humans are widely accessible. One of the perennial problems with liberalism is that if it is expressed in a straightforward manner, normal people recoil from it. Hence the obfuscation, dissembling, and tortured rationalization (except when they are speaking to one another and the mask can come off).
Despite the hamhandededness of its prose, we were nevertheless able to distill a few gnuggets from the book. Or at least we'll try, goddammit, we'll try.
Pabst says something on page 100 that (almost) perfectly expresses the Raccoon metaphysic: "To discover divine sapentia at the heart of the cosmos and the self is to discover the integral and ecstatic openness and direction of all that is to God."
You see the problem? Why "sapentia"? Why not just divine wisdom? If I were to rewrite it in my own manner, it would go something like this: In discovering the divine wisdom that beats in the heart of the living cosmos and courses through the arteries of the Self, we simultaneously discover the ecstatic openness to God of all that exists, and with it, the integral movement of creation back to Creator.
The book (which is part of a series) has the noble goal of forging a post-postmodern and postliberal metaphysic capable of making total sense of our cosmic situation. The editors of the series begin with an observation by Flannery O'Connor, that "If you live today, you breathe in nihilism." Quite true, and only more so today.
Now, "pneuma" of course means spirit and breath. There is biological re-spiration and there is spiritual re-spiration. And in either case, if the atmosphere is polluted, we will nevertheless keep breathing. What happens to someone who is running out of oxygen in an enclosed space? If we could conduct an autopsy of a person's spirtual lungs, what would we find? Would they be all black, like a smoker's?
Here is another unhelpful comment -- or a helpful one expressed in an unhelpful manner:
"Hierarchy and anagogy describe the ascending movement whose original, reverse movement is kenosis in the divine humanity of Jesus Christ. In this manner, the 'in between' of Christian metaphysics can perhaps be depicted as a spiral paradox whereby individual substances are individuated relationally by participating in the substantive relationality of the triune God."
Yes, perhaps. Why not just say (↓) and (↑)? Our inspiration is God's expiration in the orthoparadoxical spiroid movement of cosmotheosis.
Out of time. To be continued...