Thursday, July 13, 2006

Hanging Man

Valentin Tomberg once wrote that the spiritual counter-truth to the phrase "Nature abhors a vacuum" is --- "The Spirit abhors fullness." He mentions that it is the "empty spaces" -- in or between things --- that are usable by us - e.g., doors, windows, vessels, the spokes of a wheel.

Like many insights from the field of spiritual research, Tomberg's comment presumes that the part of mankind to which it is addressed is "normal" -- or "natural" or at least "sane." But what if the words of spiritual understanding fall upon the ears of people who are not "normal" -- people who are, in some sense, subnormal, unnatural, insane? Then the words would have to be turned into their opposites and inside-out in order to express reality. In this case the Spirit would merely be a vacuum and Nature would be a fullness experienced as something abhorrent.

I believe that we have arrived at this situation today. Americans seem hardly to tolerate the touch of anything "natural." The American obsession with sanitation began in the early 20th century and has been escalating ever since, to where we now have kitchen cleansers the equivalent of antibiotic steroids and rubber gloves that must be worn at all times by food preparers. "Nature" has become so abhorrent that it has become fashionable among certain sectors of youth to go to elaborate lengths to alter their biological gender, and modern medicine for years has been doing battle with mere "mortality," as if the human condition itself were something shameful and obscene. Biology has become allied to a politics of the annihilation of the natural. In this way anything "natural," i.e. not subjected to human choice, has been moved into the area of the despised and the contemptible.

As for the Spirit: the Spirit today manifests as the relentless pressure to maintain fullness and satiety, the relentless pressure to forestall any movement into emptiness, incertitude, self-questioning. This "pressure" is the obverse of the operations of the vacuum, which is suctional. Today's spirit is thus anti-Spirit -- pressure rather than suction. Thus American life swings back and forth continually between pressure and suction, fullness and vacuum, with the concepts "Nature" and "Spirit" completely reversed.

This swinging back-and-forth may be pictured as the shadow of a hanging man. Only we cannot see the corpse. Those of us who are positioned on the ground watch the events unfold by means of the Internet - which is to say, we watch not so much with eyes as with thoughts. The shadow passes and re-passes above our heads - is it merely a dead man swinging, or perhaps a lynched nation? But whatever it is, the pendulum swing never stops or comes to rest to where we might get a purchase on it or cut it down. How could there be anything so paradoxical --at the same time so helpless and mechanical? How can anything that "exists" -- and which, for that reason, must be considered "real" -- so resemble an inanimate object in that it apparently lacks the power to suffer from within and can only be acted upon from without?

For along with everything else, the helpless mechanism has swept up the meaning of passion into its diabolic paradox. Passion has come to mean lust, and instead of the renunciation of power which is the real secret of the nascent, of creativity in history, the shadows of the hanging man sweep the landscape with a ghastly and monotonous phosphorescent glow. Those of us still standing are choking in the fumes of a "Christian civilization" that has been completely gutted. The smell of sulphur is unmistakable.

Notes and Annotations:

[1] Valentin Tomberg [1900-1979] Russian anthroposophist and student of the philosophy of law who converted to Catholicism. His book, Meditations on the Tarot, [by "Anonymous"] was once pictured in a photograph of Pope John Paul II. Spiritual research: spiritual science, or Anthroposophy. Founded by Rudolf Steiner [1861-1925]. We will have occasion in this blogspot to refer frequently to Anthroposophy, which is an enormous body of work that points the way to the spiritualization of the intelligence of Western man.

[2] "...the words of spiritual understanding fall upon the ears of people who are not 'normal' -- compare Jacob Needleman, from his book, Lost Christianity: "... Sensitivity to qualities of energy is the one and only touchstone for determining the level or authenticity of Christian practices….Throughout history as we know it, the very first idea that disappears from tradition when it begins to lose its power is this teaching about gradations of the being of man…And from this point of view, the distinction between nature and grace must be read to position our present level as not even at the level of natural men. We are subnatural men…"

[3] "...helpless and mechanical": Compare G.K.Chesterton, from his book, Orthodoxy: "The more the life of the mind is unhinged, the more the machinery of matter will be left to itself."

[4] "...the renunciation of power which is the real secret of the nascent, of creativity in history..." cf. Caryl Johnston, from an essay entitled "Truth and Reconciliation," published at

Quote: "Science has had its share of creative failure, as any human enterprise does; but what it does not have is a philosophy of its own history that embraces anything other than progress and conquest. Perhaps this is one reason why our views today about ourselves are so one-sided, for we consult science when we want to consult anything relating to truth. Christianity, too, has had its share of conquest and progress, but in its depths it teaches the mysterious history-stirring power of the creative failure, the shame, the depths, the abstentions, the restraints. And because we no longer provoke our thoughts to ponder where we might desist, or consider where we might refrain rather than to act, our history has become large, brutal, and hollow. We have the forms of creativity still, but whether we still have the essence is debatable."

[6] monotonous phosphorescent glow. See Jeff Wells, "The Monotony of Evil" [July 18, 2006]--at this link: We will also in this blog have occasion to mention Simone Weil, about whom I have frequently written. I don't agree with Jeff that she was a socialist mystic. But he is right to call attention to the work of this great and lucid soul: "These are, after all, Simone Weil's times. Evil, wrote the socialist mystic, is monotonous: there is "never anything new, everything about it is equivalent.... It is because of this monotony that quantity plays so great a part." This seems counterintuitive, or perhaps simply wrong, because the world today appears full of often lamentable novelty. But the novelty, evil's artifact, is an illusion. .."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Challenging Materialistic Science

An interesting passage from Rudolf Steiner's book, Man: Hieroglyph of the Universe: "... Now if the European and American civilizations were to retain their present character, adhering only to the materialistic, Copernican view of the Universe --with its off-shoot, the Kant-Laplace theory -- a materialistic cosmogony must necessarily arise concerning earthly phenomena, biological, physical and chemical. It would be impossible for a cosmogony of this kind to include the moral world order in its structure. It could not embrace the Christ-Event, for it is impossible to be a believer in the materialistic view of the world and at the same time a Christian: that is an inner lie, it is something that cannot be, if one is honest and upright. Hence it was inevitable that the practical consequences should be seen in European and American culture, of the split between materialism on the one hand and a moral cosmogony on the other... This result was evidenced by the fact that men who had no external reason for being inwardly dishonest, threw faith overboard, and established a materialistic cosmogony for human life also. T hereby the materialistic cosmogony became a social cosmogony. This would however have the further consequence for our European and American civilization that man would have a materialistic cosmogony only and would know nothing of the Earth's connection with cosmic powers, in the sense that we have described it. Within a certain caste, however, the knowledge of the connection with cosmogony would remain, just as the Egyptian priests kept [i.e. withheld; my note] the knowledge of the Platonic year, the great cosmic year and the great cosmic day; and such circles could hope then to rule the people who under materialism degenerate into barbarism."

And in a later passage in the same chapter he contrasts the teachings of materialistic science
(his example is the Kant-Laplace theory of galaxy formation, but a more contemporary example might as well be Big Bang theory) and says that "... it is much less evil when a lie is consciously accepted, than when it takes shape unconsciously, and degrades Man and drags him down. For if we consider a lie as it appears in a man's consciousness, every time he falls asleep it leaves his physical and etheric bodies with his consciousness, and lives on in a spaceless, timeless being, in the eternal being, while Man is in a dreamless sleep. There is prepared all which can result from the lie in the future; that is, everything is made ready to correct it, if it is in the consciousness. But if it is in the unconscious, it remains with the physical and etheric bodies lying in bed. When Man is not occupying those bodies, it then belongs to the Cosmos, and not to the earthly Cosmos alone, but to the whole Cosmos; there it works for the destruction of the Cosmos; above all for the destruction of the whole of humanity, for this destruction begins in humanity itself."

So it is important not only to study the challengers of materialistic science.

  • Study the geocentrists who challenge the Big Bang and Copernicus
  • Study the plasma cosmologists who challenge the purely mechanistic, gravity-dominated universe.
  • Study homeopathy, which challenges Pharmaceutical Science
  • Study Intelligent Design, which challenges materialistic Darwinism.

But if you do not wish to study, and you prefer to side with the status quo - make sure you do it consciously, and register and attend very carefully to every blaring and breathless announcement you receive from the media, the pulpits, the judges, the op-ed writers, the blockbuster books and the Dennetts, Dawkins, and Derbyshires of our world. For all these people have a stake in keeping you stupid.

The least you can do to resist them is to remain awake.

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