Against the Rationalists

I had forgotten why I wrote ‘Against the Traditionalists’, and what it meant, so the following is an attempted self-interpretation; for that purpose, they are intended to be read together.

The Preface of Inquiry:

God hath broke a motley spear upon the lines of Rome,

When brothers Hermes masked afront Apollo’s golden throne.

The Aesthetics of Inquiry:

Metaphors we hold in mind, those scenes with their images and progressions, are of the fundamental sense that orders our perceptions and beliefs, and from which everything we create is sourced; for metaphors are dynamic and intuitive relations; and they emerge from the logic of the imagination—let us have faith that our logic is not cursed and disordered, in its severance from the Logos. The phenomenologists would be amply quoted here if they weren’t so mystical and confused—alas, one can never know which of the philosophers to settle with as they’re all so sensible, and they can never agree amongst themselves, forming warring schools that err to dogmatism since initiation—so it is to no surprise that ideologies are perused and possessed as garbs regalia, and for every man, their emperor’s new clothes.

If brevity is the soul of wit, then genius is the abbreviation of methodologies. Find the right method of inquiry, for the right moment: avoiding circumstantial particulars, preferring particular universals; even epistemic anarchist, Feyerabend, would prefer limited, periodical design to persistent, oceanic noise. One zetetic tool of threefold design, for your consideration, might be constituted thusly: axiomatic logistics—Parmenides’ Ladder, founded, stacked and climbed, with repeated steps that hold all the way; forensic tactics—Poe’s Purloined Letter, ontologically abstracted over to compare more general criteria; panoramic strategy—puzzling walnuts submerged and dissolved in Grothendieck’s Rising Sea, objects awash with the accumulated molecules of a general abstract theory. Yet, do not only stick your eye to tools, lest you become all technique, for art, in Borges, is but algebra, without its fire; and let not poor constructs be ready at hand, for the coming forth a temple-work, in Heidegger, sets up the world, while material perishes to equipment, and equipment to its singular use.

Letters of Fire and Sword:

A gallery of all sorts of shapes, and symbolic movements, exist naturally in cognition and language, and such a gallery has it’s typical forms—the line and circle, for example, are included in every shape-enthusiast’s favourites—though Frye identifies more complex images on offer, such as mountains, gardens, furnaces, and caves—and, most unforgettably, the crucifix of Jesus Christ. I’d write of the unique flavours of languages, such as their tendency to particular genres, to Sapir and Whorf’s pleasure, yet by method I must complete my first definition—now from shapes, their movement. The cinematographic plot of pleasing images adds another dimension to their enjoyment—moving metaphors, narrative poetry, being the most poetic; their popular display is sadly limited to mainly the thesislike development of a single heroic journey, less so the ambitious spiral scendancy, or, in the tendency of yours truly and Matt Groening, disjointed and ethereally timestuck episodes in a plain, imaginary void. The most beautiful scenes, often excluded, are a birth and rejoice, the catharsis of recognition, and the befalling ultimate tragedy and its revelation to universal comedy—these stories hold an aesthetic appeal for all audiences, and that’s a golden ticket for us storytellers.

If memory is the treasurehouse of the mind, then good literature is food for the soul. In the name of orthomolecular medicine, with the hopes that exercise and sleep are already accounted for, let your pantry be amply stocked and restocked with the usual bread and milk, with confectionary that’s disappeared afore next day, and with canned foods that seem forever to have existed—as for raw honey, a rarer purchase, when stored right it lasts a lifetime, and eversweet. I’m no stranger to the warnings against polyunsaturated fats by fringe health gurus, but I think I’ll take my recommendations from the more erudite masters of such matters; and I’m no stranger to new and unusual flavours, provided they’re not eaten to excess. The canonical food pyramid of Western medicine, in its anatomical display of appropriate portions, developed from extensive study and historical data, places the hearty reliables en masse at its foundations, and the unhealthiest consumables at the tiniest peak, so that we might be fully nourished and completed, while spared of the damage wreaked on our bodily constitution by sly treats of excess fats, sugars, and salt. Be rid of these nasty invaders, I say, that’d inflame with all sorts of disease; be full of good food, I say, that’d sharpen the body’s workers to good form. Mark the appropriateness of time and place when eating to the same measure; a diet is incomplete without fasting—let your gut some space to rest and think. And note the insufficiency of paper and ink as foodstuffs, and the immorality of treating friends like fast food—the sensibility of a metaphor must be conducive to The Good as well as The Beautiful, if it is to be akin to The True. Aside, it is the most miserable tragedy that, for all the meaty mindpower of medieval transcendental philosophy, they did not explore The Funny—for the Gospels end in good news, as does good comedy.

Bottom’s Dream:

Shakespeare—The Bard of whom, I confess, all I write is imitation of, for the simple fact I write in English—deserving, him not I, of all the haughtiest epithets and sobriquets that’d fall short of godhood, writes so beautifully of dreams in Midsummer’s Night’s, and yet even he could not do them justice when speaking through his Bottom—ha ha ha, delightful. “I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was: man is but an ass, if he go about to expound this dream. Methought I was—there is no man who can tell what. Methought I was, —and methought I had, —but man is but a patched fool, if he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this dream: it shall be called Bottom’s Dream, because it hath no bottom…”, Nick Bottom, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. At the end of Act IV, Scene 1.

Intermission, The Royal Zoo:

A Prince and three Lords did walk in the garden, and they sauntered about for the day.

The soon-to-be-King became awfully bored and inquired what game they could play.

“Perhaps, Sire, it’d be best to prepare”, they said, “for life’s duties that approach”.

“It is proper to train for a life’s work”, said they, “lest that debts’ hunger encroach”.

“Consider the rats”, said the Money Lord, “how they scavenge and thrift for tomorrow”.

“For their wild life is grim, and tomorrow’s tomorrow, so take what you can, and borrow”.

“Consider the lions”, said the Warrior Lord, “how they prowl and sneak for a bite”.

“For the proud life is hearty, strong conquers weak, lamb shanks easiest sliced at night”.

“Wise, yet consider the spiders”, said the Scribe Lord, “for they outwit both lion and rat”.

“To scavenge is dirty and timely, and hunting so tiring, better cunning employed to entrap”.

The Prince, unsatisfied by his Lords, summoned a Squire to ask of him his opinion:

“Squire, what do you do, not yet enslaved by your profession, that maketh life fulfilling?”.

“I play with whom I play, and with whom I play are my neighbours, my friends”, said Squire.

For that, said The Prince, “I will live not like a beast”, “I will live like a man!”,

And three Lords became three furnaced in fire.

“Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.”, Ecclesiastes 8:15, KJV. Amen.

The headstar by which we navigate, fellow Christians, is neither Athens nor Rome—it is Christ. “Be sure [Be careful; Watch; See] that no one ·leads you away [takes you captive; captivates you] with ·false [deceptive] and ·empty [worthless] teaching that is ·only human [according to human traditions], which comes from the ·ruling spirits [elemental spiritual forces (demons); or elementary teachings] of this world, and not from Christ.”, Colossians 2:8, EXB. Amen.

A Note on Opinion:

It is common sense, in our current times, that the most opinionated of us rule popular culture. Without a doubt, the casting, writing, directing, etc, of a major cinematic production project is decided in final cut by ‘the money’—so I speak not of the centrally-planned, market-compromised popular-media environment—but it is by the algorithm of the polemic dogmatist that metacultural opinions, of normative selection and ranking and structuring, are selected. One must be at the very least genius, or prideful, or insane, to have the character of spontaneously spouting opinions. It is an elusive, but firmly remembered anecdote that ordinary, healthy people are not politics-mad—ideologically lukewarm, at the very least. Consider the archetypical niche internet micro-celebrity: such posters are indifferent machines, accounts that express as autonomous idols, posting consistently the same branded factory gruel, and defended by their para-socialised followers over any faux pas, for providing the dry ground of profilicity when sailing the information sea. Idols’ dry land at sea, I say, are still but desert islands—houses built on sand. Now consider the archetypical subreddit: ignoring the top-ranking post of all time either satirising or politicising the subreddit, and the internal memes about happenings within the subreddit; even without the influence of marketing bots, the group produces opinions and norms over commercial products and expensive hobbies, and there is much shaming to new members who have not yet imitated and adopted group customs; essentially, they’re product-review-based fashion communities. Hence, the question follows: if knowledge is socially produced, then how can we distinguish between fashion and beauty—that is, in effect, the same as asking how, in trusting our gut, can we distinguish lust and love? How can we recognise a stranger? Concerning absolute knowledge, including matters of virtue and identity, truth is not pursued through passion’s inquiry, but divinely revealed. “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”, John 8:58, KJV. Amen.

A Note on Insanity:

It is common for romantic idealists to be as dogmatic as the harsh materialists they so criticise. All is matter! All is mind! One ought to read Kant methinks; recall Blake’s call to particularity: there needs be exceptions, clarifications, addendums, subclauses, minor provisions, explanatory notes, analytical commentary, critique, and reviews—orbiting companion to bold aphorism; Saturn’s ordered rings, to monocle Jupiter’s vortex eye, met in Neptune’s subtle glide. Otherwise, the frame is no other than that which is criticised: arch-dogmatism. If we’re to play, then let us play nicely; it is not for no reason that Plato so criticised the poets, for the plain assertions of verse do not explain themselves, and so are contrarywise to the pursuit of wisdom in a simple and subjectivist pride—selfishly asserting its rules as self-evident. Yet, they might be wedded, for truly there is no poetic profession without argumentative critics—no dialectic without dialogue. And so, if I must think well, and to accept those necessities, then questions of agency be most exhaustive nuts to crack. If all is matter, then all is circumstantial—If all is mind, then all is your fault; if all is reason, we’re bound by Urizen’s bronze—if all is passion, we’re windswept to fancy. Unanswered still, is the question of insanity. And even without insanity, what is right and what is wrong so eludes our wordy description. “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”, James 4:17, KJV. Amen.

Endless curiosities might unravel onwards, so shortly I shall suggest a linguistic idealist metacritique of mine own, that: to make philosophy idealistic, or to naturalise the same, are but one common movement, merging disparate literatures representing minds, of the approach to total coherence of the human imagination; such that might mirror the modal actualism of Hegel, a novelist who was in following, and ahead of, the boundless footsteps of short story writer, Leibniz. To answer it most simply: for four Gospels, we have fourfold vision, so if one vision is insufficient, then two perspectives are too—all-binary contradiction is the workings of Hell, but paradox and aporia, is, as exposited by Nicholas Rescher and Brayton Polka, the truth of reality. This way we might properly weigh both agency and insanity, by taking the higher ground of knowledge and learning. Recall Jesus’ perfect meeting of the adulterer—when he saw the subject and not the sin.

A Note on Disability:

There is potential for profound beauty in the inexpressible imagination, such that would make language but ugly nuts and bolts, if it didn’t also follow that we cannot absolutely explicate language either. Then, it seems even if our words do not create the world, but are representations, we can still know and appreciate facets of reality without their full expression—our words construct models, or carve at the joints of the world, but the good and beautiful expression is true proof of God; to recognise truth is intuitive, perhaps being that mental faculty which is measure sensibility. Hence, let us first pray that we are all forgiven for our sins, ignorant and willing, and second, that the mentally disabled, and lost lambs without dreams, can know Him too. Amen.

Photo Credit.

Against the Traditionalists

A Premise:

Deep, and yet deeper down, below the marsh slime and the swamp rot, even underneath poppy roots and the granite rows, Old England’s Foundations lie. While thinned and turned soils are cold and damp, the fiery Mantle warms and pulses, twisting round and circling on itself; the Core sees into itself and ponders on its shadows; to reach out into the cold and dark, hope perchance to find new wheels to turn, or perhaps not. Content, in the underworld, dreaming of the pictures of its marble face, Old England’s Foundations are buried the deepest, overwritten by thin and beaten sheets of plaster and tissue paper.

Yet, this is a fantasy: circumstantial myths of Old England, and its Foundations. Those marshes were sealed, and the swamps became roads, and the shapes and the names of the trees do not matter anymore. Accumulated plays turned in on themselves and became a meaningless fresco; the hand-me-down uniform, hoarded in poverty, with no weavers to craft anew. That Core is no form but a feeling, fleeting and shallow, giving only the image of warmth. Gawp at the statues and the towers and the gold on the wall. They were never yours.

Intermission, The Alchemists’ Folly:

Higher, and yet higher so, far reaching beyond the sea and above the clouds, up and up Nature’s Ladder, climbs a Champion. For all its power and glory. He soon received the ravenous attention of The Crow, the most cunning of all the birds. It said: “I have seen many climb, and their plans dissolved away, but wear my feather, and sing my song, and Nature’s sure to play”. The Crow put a feather on The Champion’s shoulder, and The Champion cawed until he had near reached the clouds. He looked down to measure his climb, and one cheek was slashed by The Crow’s feather; he saw many other smaller birds with more beautiful sounds and colours than The Crow, hiding fearfully away in their nests.

Higher and higher, between the feathers and the stars, up The Ladder, climbed The Champion. The clouds from below were sunlit pillars in the sky yet seemed smoke and fog inside. At once, the guiding stars were blotted out, and The Champion was frozen in the dark. He begged it clear, and The Cloud said: “Truly, Nature loves to hide, and seems at first a chaos sight, but learn its ways, obey and pay, by water’s path will light”. The Champion’s waterskin was plucked by a gale, and The Cloud gave in credit due a magic hailstone, and it magnified the light of the stars. His fingers were cold and heavy, his water was lost, and the constellations seemed more twisted than ever before; but, with the dim path seen by magic divined, The Champion waged on.

An earthquake struck, and The Ladder path fell; weathered wood, by many footsteps heeled, shattered with the turning of a generation. His bearing steers all amiss under the dizzying constellations, for the old way is no more; and The Champion loses their footing, curses the folly, and plummets into brine under the bottommost rungs; championing, no more. The Fool who works with wood and nail, at the bottom of The Ladder, did not build houses that day, for another ladder was built by him; and The Fool then propped it, already to seize the opportunity, to climb the path again. But The Cloud and The Crow remain in their Nature, as they wait between the salt and the stars.

Their Conclusion:

Hailing practice and ritual, making nothing new, and the new, ugly; what comes from a fool’s history? Yesterday’s legislation becomes today’s tradition, and old and common habits are preserved by kitsch committee. To justify what happened, because it happened, accounting to stacked sediments of past scoresheets? If that is good, then good is evil; bored eyes make nothing beautiful around our empty hands, so we make eternities of nothing, and are compassed about by our enduring appetites. With Nature as your sentimental measure, you pay tribute to accidental shadows on the wall. Where is The True, The Good, The Beautiful? God have mercy on your windswept souls.

Photo Credit.

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