Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Postmodern is the New Premodern

Bearing in mind that other people's dreams are always boring, I'll be brief: I had forgotten where I parked my car, and was looking all over for it in a huge, multilevel parking lot. It then dawned on me that I was doing so while behind the wheel of my car. D'oh!

During the search, I was fretfully thinking to myself that misplacing the car was a Senior Moment of epic proportions. However, the Dreamer must have had something else in mind, since of course he knew all along (very funny!) where the car was. He was just messing with my head, as usual.

Considering the dream in broad daylight, it highlights the paradox of trying to look for reality while ignoring the reality of the looker. You could say that this is what Buddhism is all about, except that neither the car nor the driver really exist. It was all just a dream. Yes, but who dreamt it?

In the west, we believe we can find the car, dammit, even while driving it. This is bound to generate metaphysical paradoxes, but scientists don't waste any time thinking about them. They'll deal with them if they ever actually catch the car. Meanwhile, they're not going to stop chasing it because they can't yet account for the driver.

What makes us think we can discover reality, anyway? The ancient world was fairly unanimous in the belief that we couldn't, at least by confining our search to empirical parking lots.

The western scientific enterprise represents a split from this primordial matrix, what with its exploration of material reality. In turn, what we call postmodernism represents another split from that road, back to the premodern belief that appearances only deceive.

Actually, postmodernism renders man doubly lost, since at least premodern man assumed a reality behind appearances, whereas postmodern man believes only in appearances. Beneath appearances are only more appearances. Life is the search for a car that doesn't exist in a parking lot built by the patriarchy.

A brief answer to the question posed above about what makes us think we can discover reality: what if I told you I had the most inconceivably complex information network in the entire universe, with a gravimetric power density 100,000 times that of the sun?

Never mind what "gravimetric power density" means. It still sounds pretty impressive, no? And with 100 billion neurons, each connecting to a hundred others, that makes for 100 trillion connections in numberless potential configurations. By way of comparison, Bryce writes that the network in our skulls is orders of magnitude more densely packed than the 40 billion pages of this here Web.

So yeah, I think we can do this thing.

Yes but. You know how Darwinians try to drag man down by reminding us that man and chimp are separated by a one percent difference (or whatever it is) in DNA? What this really means is that DNA is obviously insufficient to account for the literally infinite gulf between man and chimp.

Analogously, let's assume that, despite my sr. moments, I still have the average number of marbles, 100 trillion. Another person, say, Charles Blow, has 99 trillion. Clearly, that mere trillion connections is insufficient to account for why he is such a retard, and why he is so hopelessly out of touch with reality.

So this big brain, phenomenal though it may be, is only necessary but not sufficient to find the cosmic car. Where then does the sufficiency come from?

Not to get out in front of our headlights, but the quick answer is "God." However, this is not an answer that will satisfy the ignorant masses and Blow hordes, so it requires some further explication. To say "God" is not to invoke magic so as to end the conversation. Rather, it is only beginning. "God" is like a cognitive placemarker, or algebraic variable that we must fill out with wisdom and experience (which is why I often deploy the unsaturated pneumaticon O).

God doesn't just give us one book to work with. For that matter, nor does science really work from just the one book of material reality. Rather, there are always four books, the book of nature, the book of the human subject, the book of history, and the book of revelation.

Not only is it possible to harmonize these books, they can really only be separated in fantasy, or in the abstract. Specifically, they are (beautifully) harmonized in the irreducible cosmic principle of "person" so that each book is written and read in the gap between persons: between person and person (horizontally) and between person and Person (vertically).

As Pabst properly notes, "there is no dualism opposing the Book of Scripture to the Book of Nature, as both are complementary modes of human cognition and in this sense mutually reinforcing."

Please note that to say they are not dualistic is not to say they aren't two. Rather, it is to say that this twoness is a fruitful dialogue and not a static opposition. It only becomes static for the infertile egghead, a term we mean literally.

That is to say, the early fathers spoke of the logos spermatikos, or "seeds of the Logos" which are "sent down to humanity." Thus, "it is the Word made flesh which acts in us and, analogically speaking, plants the seeds of the divine Logos in our mind."

Although the seeds are free, they often fall on the rocky soil of the infertile egghead, so no conception may take place. In this context, Mary would represent the very archetype of transhuman fertility. Thus, "our natural knowledge of the supernatural good is in is but not of us," so even saying Yes to God is already God saying Yes in us and to us.

10 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

I had forgotten where I parked my car, and was looking all over for it in a huge, multilevel parking lot. It then dawned on my that I was doing so while behind the wheel of my car. D'oh!

Ah, but were you also looking for the bathroom? And was there a woman carrying a goldfish? If so, I hope you didn't copy Kramer's example and pee in the corner, because those security guards seem to have a 6th sense...

6/11/2014 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Uromysitisis

6/11/2014 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Bob, this whole post, are you sure you didn't watch this episode of Socrates in the City last night with me?

Seriously - lots of echoes.
Pretty funny Intro-Guy, too.

6/11/2014 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

My senior moment yesterday was when I had my keys in one hand and some trash in another, and I tossed the keys into the garbage. It made for a good Instagram for someone watching me rummage through a street trash container.

"God" is like a cognitive placemarker, or algebraic variable that we must fill out with wisdom and experience.

Yes, but I was hoping to be done with math. Oh well.

Please note that to say they are not dualistic is not to say they aren't two. Rather, it is to say that this twoness is a fruitful dialogue and not a static opposition. It only becomes static for the infertile egghead, a term we mean literally.

Well then, bring on the math for my fertile Self.

6/11/2014 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Postmodern is the New Premodern"

Oh! As the coiner of 'Pro-Regressive', I'm suffering from a deep case of title envy!

6/11/2014 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger swiftone said...

Just the beautiful illustration provided in sleep was enough for me. What a lovely picture of a problem, and how it is posed nonsensically. Draws a picture of how the next dimension is needed to proceed meaningfully. O!

6/11/2014 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

If only we had a big drive-in mirror.

Which is why, I'm sure, some people drive the Chevy to the levee, because you get a chance to see yourself before you go under. Take a picture.

6/11/2014 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Life is the search for a car that doesn't exist in a parking lot built by the patriarchy.

Now I understand.

6/11/2014 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Or in other words, "everything is relative to a reality that is not there."

6/11/2014 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger katzxy said...

"Beneath appearances are only more appearances."

It's turtles all the way down.

6/11/2014 03:50:00 PM  

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