Sunday, May 27, 2007

Hysterics



Let us continue in our exposition of one Greek word, usteresantos, which has been elucidated in connection with the womb and with ‘lacking in something,’ which I believed to be connected to true metaphysics. Before I begin with this post, I want to take note of Andrew’s comment to me in an e-mail of May 20 regarding the previous post:

"I really enjoyed your latest post. Your remarks about the Modern age's idolization of self-sufficiency are right on target. I think this idea could also go a long way towards explaining the dismal state of education in our country. Education that has as its goal mere self-sufficiency has by that fact become something less than education. Instead of fostering a feeling of lacking in students which may arouse their metaphysical curiosity, it promises to furnish them with all they need to know to get on in the world. And so, if something can be known but won't help you get on in the world, it's not really worth knowing.
But my reason for writing is rather to ask you whether this prolonged period of stagnation may not be coming to an end. Do you think, perhaps, that the next generation, looking back at the last century and a half of prolonged paralysis, will begin to discover the insufficiency of self-sufficiency? The end of your post suggests you have some hope for the future - if we survive the present - but I wonder if there aren't any signs now of better things to come. It seems to me that the rantings of the chief proponents of self-sufficiency have become more desperate recently, and that just maybe the sober wisdom of those attuned to the Mysteries will gain a wider appreciation by the contrast. "

I believe that we will begin to discover the "insufficiency of self-sufficiency" as we become aware of the "initiatic tradition." What is this? What is "the Tradition"? What is initiation? How can we even begin to think about "the meaning of the initiatic tradition" when we have no language or experience in which to formulate our thoughts, and even to deal with such an "objective concept" already represents a "problem," so to speak, in terms of modernity? Where, indeed, even to begin – to initiate the discussion, which means, "to begin" it?

Just as a prelude, let me suggest that "initiation" is a concept which is opposed to evolutionism, which is the idea that, in a sense, nothing has a "beginning," but that everything develops or evolves according to the unfolding possibilities in Nature. Of course, it is not strictly true that "initiation" is opposed to "evolution," no more than the poetic inspiration of a sonnet is "opposed" to the form of the sonnet, or that the "meaning" of a sentence takes place in opposition to the grammatical rules of the language in which it is written or uttered.

Nevertheless, in terms of modern thinking, it is roughly true that the initiatic idea, which in the Latin Bible is expressed by the term in principio –"In the beginning" - that this principle of the Beginning is swallowed up by the idea of continuity of natural development.

But more precisely, the concept of initiation cannot be seen as being opposed to what unfolds in time, in the sense that this "unfolding in time" is what is meant by "The Tradition." It is thus "the Tradition" which guards the beginning, that is, the principle of initiation. And this beginning-point is always and only the confirmation of the correspondence of the human and divine world, the natural and the cosmic order. "Initiation" is the experience by which human beings receive this knowledge and certitude.

With this as necessary background, I want to proceed into the matter of this post – which may be something of a long one, as I have much material to cover. I want to discuss the concept of initiation, and I also want to lead back to our original starting point with the idea of the usteron, the womb, the feeling of being in lack of something. But I want to conclude by showing how, when this feeling of ‘lacking something’ is denied, or sidetracked into a materialist rather than a spiritualized understanding, we can arrive at the situation of hysterics – which is yet another word derived from our original usteron, the womb.

I realize I am making many demands on my readers, and I hope they will have the patience and fortitude to follow along as best they can – given my defects as a writer.

Lately I have been reading in the works of René Guénon [1886-1951] the French philosopher and expositor of the ‘Tradition’ – most notably his book, The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times. Guénon was a Catholic who, later in his life, moved to Cairo, Egypt, and converted to the Sufi faith. In the West, only Catholic Christianity still continues to bear the initiatic tradition, which was once universal to all peoples and all cultures. In the West, however, the tradition has become ‘deviated’ - that is to say, the impersonal pure intellectual intuition needed to apprehend it has sunk to the level of the ordinary personal intellectualized Reason with its accompanying material evidences, or empiricism. More and more the emphasis in Western thinking has been quantity rather than quality, how things can be measured and utilized rather than how they can be deepened, beautified, or elaborated.

He summarizes as follows: "As soon as it has lost all effective communication with the supra-individual intellect, reason cannot but tend more and more toward the lowest level, toward the inferior pole of existence, plunging ever more deeply into ‘materiality’: as this tendency grows, it gradually loses hold of the very idea of truth, and arrives at the point of seeking no goal other than that of making things as easy as possible for its own limited comprehension, and in this it finds an immediate satisfaction in the very fact that its own downward tendency leads it in the direction of the simplification and uniformization of all things; it submits all the more readily and speedily to this tendency because the results of this submission conform to its desires, and its ever more rapid descent cannot fail to lead at least to what has been called the ‘reign of quantity.’" (94-5)

There are certain characteristics of the state of mind to which we may affix the character of "the reign of quantity:"
  • Insolence and presumption of knowledge concerning religious or spiritual matters, and by extension in all matters of courtesy, intellectual and social. Take, for example, the recent book by Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great, and other books of that ilk, now appearing in profusion; a new kind of militant atheism which argues that people would be nicer to each other if they had no religion. The fallacy of this belief is the idea that man created religion. But the truth is more likely that religion created mankind. We do not in fact know how prehistoric human beings stepped forth from the nexus of mere animal sociality into human language, action, reason and culture. This is precisely why the concept of initiation is needed. For initiation concerns the "striving for humanity" at whatever level it occurs, and it would be contradictory, if not nonsensical, to suppose that this "striving" could take place without the participation of man. Thus the naturalist fallacy begins and ends with the notion that no effort is needed, or that we need not bring distinctions, or distinguish qualities, of efforts. Thus the "reign of quantity" ends with the destruction of culture – i.e., utter complacency, which is the "moral" side of the doctrine of self-sufficiency.
  • A "horror of mystery" which arises from the notion that "reality" is only what can been seen, measured, quantified, and rationalized.
  • Lack of manners, reticence, reserve, humility, receptivity, patience and an aggressive utilitarianism. If there are no "qualities," why bother?
  • An inability to understand or appreciate symbolic or imaginative discourse -- a "one size fits all" approach which derives from "uniformization" and of seeing all things on the same level.
  • Emotional autism, of being encased or solidified in one’s own ‘individuality,’ with a corresponding lack of empathy or interest in others .
  • Manic activity and restlessness, especially in the economic but in other realms as well, which "… is why the period can be said to be using up everything that had been set aside in earlier periods;" (p. 177; italics mine). This is called entropy; it means dispersal or the exploitation of natural and cultural resources without limit, leaving nothing for future generations.
  • And finally, the inability to give sustained attention and even to think. For thinking presupposes at least two things: the correspondence of words and things, and the ability to order concepts hierarchically. The first of these is the last echo of the correspondence of the human and cosmic order, and the second of these is the last echo of the sense of quality. Both of these presuppositions, in the "Reign of Quantity," have virtually collapsed.


The ‘deviated’ course of Western history which René Guénon traces from Renaissance Humanism, through Protestantism, to mechanism, rationalism, materialism, positivism, pragmatism, etc. to the purely ‘quantitative’ outlook of today, is not enough, in and of itself, to bring about the final ‘dissolution,’ which he regards as the consummation of this phase of manifestation. Dissolution demands an actual work of ‘subversion’ – through the erection of a counterfeit spirituality, a counterfeit hierarchy, a counter-initiation. Thus:


"This is the moment at which the second kind of work, which had at first only been carried out in a more or less hidden manner by way of preparation, and in any case on a restricted scale, had to come into the open and in its turn to cover an increasingly wide field…" (p. 195)


He continues:


"’Anti-tradition’ found its most complete expression in the kind of materialism that could be called ‘integral,’ such as that which prevailed toward the end of the last century: as for the ‘counter-tradition,’ we can still only see the preliminary signs of it, in the form of all the things that are striving to become counterfeits in one way or another of the traditional idea itself…" (p. 260)


It is important to distinguish what is still a kind of ‘innocent’ or ‘naïve’ materialism from the work of subversion, which can only proceed from a Spiritual Being:


"… after having worked always in the shadows to inspire and direct invisibly all modern movements, it will in the end contrive to ‘exteriorize,’ if that is the right word, something that will be as it were the counterpart of a true tradition… Just as initiation is… the thing that effectively represents the spirit of a tradition, so will the ‘counter-initiation’ play a comparable part with respect to the ‘counter-tradition’: but obviously it would be quite wrong and improper to speak of the spirit in the second case, since it concerns that from which the spirit is most completely absent… nevertheless opposition is undoubtedly attempted, and is accompanied by imitation in the manner of the inverted shadow… However that may be, the thing that makes it possible for affairs to reach such a point is that the ‘counter-initiation’… cannot be regarded as a purely human invention… the ‘counter-initiation’ proceeds from that source (i.e. the spirit, from when comes all manifestation) by a degeneration carried to its extreme limit, and that limit is represented by the ‘inversion’ that constitutes ‘satanism’ properly so called…(pps.261-2)

* * * * * * * * *
It may seem paradoxical that human life under the "Reign of Quantity" should more and more take on the character of the ‘hysterical.’ And so we return to this word once again, the root of which, usteron, is the womb. The ‘hysterical’ aspect is a counter-image of the metaphysical depths we explored in our previous post. "Hysterics" is womb-without-mind – without the ordering principles of the higher Logos, without intellectual intuition, without receptivity to truth. In the physical body, this receptivity characterizes the womb; in the spiritual organism it is, or should be, characterized by the mind. A "concept" is a mental birth, as the conceptus is of the physical.


Lately there has been an even more radical step into the purely quantitative realm – or even beyond the mere quantitative into the dissolutional. Consider the Large Hadron Collider, an underground science lab in Switzerland that will shoot particles through a 27-kilometer tunnel and analyze the resulting collisions (in a four-million-megabyte –per-hour stream of data," as Elizabeth Kolbert of the New Yorker put it). She quotes one scientist, "What we want is to reduce the world to objects that have no structure, that are points, that are as simple as we can imagine. And then build it up from there again." Here is the best possible summary of Guénon’s thesis: how the quantitative becomes the dissolutive and finally achieves a total reversal, that is, a counter-image of the hierarchy of Nature.


Yet I would like to suggest an additional feature as well. In the supposedly emotionless calculative agenda of this science it is easy to miss the fantastic element in this scientist’s remark. The idea that scientists can "build it up from there again" is pure fantasy, a complete delusion. But is it not also a kind of ‘hysteria’ ? Here is evidence of how the human imagination has become unmoored from Nature, and in so doing, has become self-inflated – with the idea that a scientist can "rebuild the world" again from a mass of shattered particles.


At the very least, this scientist sees no contradiction in the fact that a science intent upon the dissolution of matter can hardly possess the requisite skills for rebuilding. One might say that the skills in the resume are vastly different – poles apart, indeed. But this is merely "Reign of Quantity" thinking all over again – that somehow there is no difference between the work of destruction and the work of construction. Kolbert reports that a few people have ventured to suggest that the Large Hadron Collider will "destroy the world." Perhaps they express more of the truth than they know. Only, it is not a physical destruction that is the portent here. With a science poised between calculated dissolution on the one hand, and hysterical delusions on the other, there is a sense in which any mere physical destruction would be an anticlimax – a mere postscript that never could be written in words - this being the ultimate 'counter-image' to the inexpressibility of spiritual truth itself.


We have come a long way from usteron of the path of the Logos to usteron as a type of receptable or even breeding-ground of demonic beings of pride. For remember, usteron is that in us which must have metaphysics – and that is why we are historical beings. For History is the daughter of Metaphysics.

The Metaphysics of Creation are the truths of initiation, the story of First Principles. It is not wrong to have fables – even the fable of evolution – but it is deadly to have fables without counteracting First Principles. The hour is late. The time is now. For the abyss has no bottom – no, not even for us, favored and forgiven by God numberless times throughout the course of our laborious centuries of striving to become human.

13 comments:

Darryl said...

In doing a blog search I came across your fascinating entry. Having taught biology, I will throw an example your way that perhaps is even more disturbing than those scientists with their dissolution of particles into quanta-points of energy. Consider the ever increasing knowledge of genetics and the desire to build the human being back up...from the 'ground' up. Hmmm, for people who don't believe in God, they are doing a heck of a try at 'being' God. But this example carries something frightening with it. When they experiment, attempt to try out their desires to 'create' a human being in their own mind's image, who takes responsibility for that life? Especially if they screw it up? Of course, in their reasoning I suppose they could say that when they were tampering it never was a life, just an unviable mass of tissue. Hmm, but somewhere along the timeline it becomes a life and that life will ask, Who screwed me up? It's hard enough when parents don't do well by their children, but this reaches the level of the absurdly grotesque.

Oh, I love your headline on the catacombs. I notice you are a writer and editor. I also write. You may find my work at www.thefaithwalkerseries.com And interestingly enough, I have from a different direction tried to focus on the same theme as your headline. Thanks for your blog.

Andrew said...

Daryl, I noted your interest in C.S. Lewis and experience in education and wondered if you ever read Lewis’ “The Abolition of Man” – which deals with the relationship between the moral law, or the Tao as Lewis refers to it, and education, and with the consequences that neglect of the Tao has for the future of humanity. In the last chapter especially, Lewis describes how ‘Man’s conquest of Nature’ really “turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument”; and how ultimately such a conquest, if pursued without respect for the Tao, will bring us to a day when “Man by eugenics, by pre-natal conditioning, and by an education and propaganda based on a perfect applied psychology, has obtained full control over himself. Human nature will be the last part of Nature to surrender to Man”. As opposed to earlier ages, when ideals of human excellence were prescribed by the Tao, when teachers “initiated the young neophyte into the mystery of humanity which over-arched him and them alike”, once the Conditioners take control, all ‘value’ will be determined solely by their own irrational impulses. “Nature, untrammelled by values, rules the Conditioners and, through them, all humanity. Man’s conquest of Nature turns out, in the moment of its consummation, to be Nature’s conquest of Man.”
I thought this might be relevant to the example you threw at Caryl, and the book also provides some valuable insights into the workings of the “initiatic tradition”.

Caryl said...

Darryl and Andrew- Thanks for the great responses! Much appreciated. I agree that the manipulation of biology is even more horrifying than what is going on in physics - but what is going on in physics is merely the model for everything else. It is a science that has apparently turned destructive.
I'll check out your blog, Darryl - and thanks again, Andrew.

Darryl said...

Wow! I want to say thank you to both Caryl and Andrew. I had not read The Abolition Man. But now i plan to. That theme you described, Andrew, is a theme I have been speaking deeply about for some time. And as I understand it, in hogh School in oither countries it is at least required to study philosophy and general morality. Hmmm, but not here.

Thank you so much for signing my guest book, Caryl. And I appreciate your exploring my website. My first novel should be in print in about a month and i am hoping to stir something up with it. Put things back in the context of where they belong.

I'm going to shift subject a bit and share something else with you. Perhaps you might post it, but i think that it also fits with Andrews comment from a different direction concerning socialization. The following is from my best friend, who is also a teacher:

Before I go I want to share something with you about school that may or may not shock you. As you know, I teach at ****, which is a rural, all-white, christian, high-achieving school. The school uniform seems to be Hollister and Abercrombie and Fitch (fashion retailers). And the right of passage is now porn. Yes, PORN. The new trend - and I mean trend, not just a few select cases - is for girls to send picture-texts of themselves naked to boys. They also make strip-tease videos and post them on youtube and myspace. It's gotten so bad, that the district FINALLY was forced to acknowledge that this was taking place (they tried really hard to deny it) when pictures surfaced of two kids having sex in a bathroom at school. The admin even sent a letter home to parents about the dangers of possessing and passing child-porn and banned having cell phones in class (an edict that is mostly ignored and just encourages the kids to do it more). I had a conversation with a girl who was bragging about her video and tried to explain how she'll be very embarrassed about it one day. That strategy failed because she sees a world in which celebrities get rewarded for their sex videos and naked photo-shots and her world is now one in which that's actually cool, and why would she ever regret being cool. It's unbelievable. And this is the country in ***** county. Imagine the state of city schools. And here's something else of interest. My senior girls find this as appalling and despicable as I do. They can't imagine what's going on with those slutty freshman and sophomore girls. And what I've realized it that the younger girls were very young and impressionable (10-12 years old) when youtube and myspace hit big and when Brittney Spears and Paris Hilton and others got lots of positive reception and press for naked photos and sex tapes. The culture is to reward for that behavior, not ostracize. So these girls have grown up with that being positive and something that is trendy and accessible do to the WEB. My senior girls, on the other hand, are just old enough to still perceive that behavior as deviant and to have not grown up with using those technologies for pornographic purposes. In other words, thanks to technology, the generation gap seems to have been whittled down to about TWO YEARS! Every two years, the next generation is hip and the old kids are obsolete. And the age keeps getting younger. Junior high kids are now the trend setters and the techno-masters and the high-school kids are over-the-hill. Sometimes I think school is where I'm needed and sometimes I think the ship is sinking and it's time to get out of education.

That's from my best friend. I find also particularly disturbing his observation about the two year generation gap. Hmmm, Caryl, you mentioned me portending. Hmmm, maybe. But in my first novel I created a magazine that Stephanie, my heroine loves to read before she has a change in attitude. Teen 14. Get my point?

Darryl said...

I knew I meant to say something else, and oh, oops, sorry for the previous spelling errors. As your blog indicates, Caryl, that something needs to be dealt with in current Christianity, in light of what my best friend described, does that indicate a failure of cuurent Christianity to properly pass on effective love and understanding to prevent what my friend has described? We know the passion that certain social elements put behind degradation. Would you say that there is anywhere even close to the level of passion to fight it? If not, why not? Just thinking.

Caryl said...

Good question, Darryl. No, I don't think there is adequate passion to resist the incredible pressures today - although there is some resistance, it is not strong enough. Why- I think because modern Christians have no connection with philosophy, metaphysics, and they do not know how to think. Arousing a convinced and coherent passionate resistance to the degradation of childhood and the bestialization of man demands a high and noble sense of human destiny, and of the importance of this life, and a deep thinking to explain the one to the other.
Resistance does not end with intellect. But it must begin there.
We must learn how to reason again - I mean the high reason of Logos, not mere "rationalization." If we do not reconsecrate ourselves to this task we will go under.

Darryl said...

Believe it or not, today while I worked all 11 hours, in between the hustle and bustle my thoughts kept returning and skipping around on your ideas. There are a few points came to my mind.

Why do you write what you do? You have put a lot of effort into being able to write it, and write it well, and a lot of effort into the product itsself. Do you write for simply a cold intellectual gain or is this endeavor also a matter felt deeply in your heart? I think there is a partnership here as deeply in your heart as in your mind. Why do I make the point?

Somewhere I remember reading something confirming my own opinion that the heart is stronger than the mind and if change in humanity is to be won it must start in the heart, but needs solid guidence in the mind to bear good fruit. Way back somewhere your passion to be a rigorous thinking individual gave you the love for this to continue... So the goal to improve society is two-fold. 1- How to inspire, initiate that feeling. 2- how to teach the affective mental tools and material.

Interestingly enough, the kind of motivation required has both initiate and self-sufficient threads intertwined! But where modern self-sufficiency is aimed outward, externalized, the needed self-sufficiency is the desire and the pursuit of that desire to simply know, as it is commanded- Seek an ye shall find, but what an odd command it is! It is both self-sufficient and seeks initiate! ...Know what? This will in part be unique for each individual according to their constitution, I think. Some may have desire to know the truth of what Love is. Some Reason or Understanding. Some Peace, Some Life... So many qualities, QUALITIES of the Spirit of God, and they are all one together and lead to each other... And in order to be intersted their attention must be drawn witin to see the image of those qualities represented by both particular thoughts and feelings. If you look at the propagandization of society, they rewrite and twist both thought and feeling away from what you so eloquently described as man's higher, noble calling.

"Why- I think because modern Christians have no connection with philosophy, metaphysics, and they do not know how to think."

Oh my God! So very true and I have often said so. And I would add to that, that they do not know how to let themselves feel. For if they let themselves feel the emptiness yet inside them, and it scares them, then they have to be taught to own up to it, admit it and ask the cause. Instead, to ward off that empty feeling, they must solace themselves in rote scriptures and religious practices that do not truly reward, and they must also likewise dull the tools of the mind, often holding conflicting, self-contradictory beliefs by an excuse of an aptly named faith as 'blind.' But true reson will not stand for such failure, such blindness. Th God of Truth says He delights in Understanding. True faith makes sense based on the Spiritual Qualites that make sense. Those do not produce blindness and properly showed, have the passionate power to inspire. Hmmm, problem is...the philosophical problem is, that anyone so inspired would not only have to claim, but truly KNOW something initiate. Hmmm, how scary is that to the 'religious rulers' They fight against the very thing that Christ died to give us! For the Holy Spirit must most certainly be initiate, and not under any Earthly rule. When it was seen as such, long ago, people passionately sought it out. Not just an emotional experience. They were too wise for that. But a spiritual experience satisfying the whole human being- mentally and heartfelt.

OK... I think I might be rambling. Let me demonstrate by sharing a small part of my soon to be published novel:

Her eyes widened. She could feel the meaning of his words sink to the depths of her heart. Somehow, she recognized their meaning, as if she had known these things before. It was like a memory but she knew she had never thought about it before. She was confused, “How do you know such things?”
“Because I think, Stephanie. I think, and I look deep into myself and I’m honest about all I see.”
She saw fire in his eyes and her heart pounded because of it. She recognized that fire…but how? She had never seen it before. Stephanie stared into his eyes for a very long, silent moment. It was as if she was learning through his eyes, feeling his thoughts. She heard herself speak softly, passionately, truly, “I thought I would never say this to anyone, Vaughn, but I look into your eyes and I see beauty there.”

PCJ said...

Your post reminds me of something somebody said about big atom smashers. If I remember correctly, the comment was something to the effect that using them to understand nature was like trying to understand modern civilization by flying commercial passenger jets into a mountainside, then studying the debris field. (Maybe you were the one who passed along that comment to me, Caryl.)

But I don’t quite understand your point about evolution. What has initiation to do with it? Seems to me that you are shooting at something or somebody, but not in a way that is very clear.

In fact, seems to me, the idea of evolution supports your basic point. The complexity of nature is a delicate product of billions of years of evolution, not only at the level of life but at the level of galaxies and universes. It is hubris to think that we can break this complexity down, then put it back together in ways that suit our purpose of the moment, without catastrophe (for us, for us, not for nature).

I like your insistence upon a supra-rational point of view. Without it, we get into trouble. But the arguments of Hume cannot be set aside. We still have to think through, and understand what is going on when we talk about God (and Christ, if we are Christians). As Robert Frost put it, the only way out is through.
That is, we can’t go around what we have learned over the last centuries. We have to go through it.

Caryl said...

PCJ-Thanks for writing. No, it wasn't me that passed on that remark about the atom smasher, but it's a good one.
I agree that we have to 'go through' what we have gained. But there is also the opportunity to supplement what we have learned in standard history and philosophy with an awakening of understanding at a new level. The concept of initiation, as I understand it at present, is an important balance to the concept of evolution. It brings in the concept of a creative beginning - which is what the evolution concept lacks. Ultimately it is only a science of "creative beginning" that can restore the "whatness" (quality) of things. The unique qualities of form have been dispossessed in modern materialist science. To attend to the unique qualities of forms and their "irreducibility" is to initiate the mind with the realization of the Logos - in the mind as well as the world. It brings the factor of human participation back into Nature at a philosophical - as opposed to merely an instrumental (e.g. scientific instruments of measurement, etc.) level.

Ahmed Ismail said...

Caryl, thank you very much for your supportive comments at my blog. I checked out your blog and I read good stuff here. I put your blog in my must-daily-read favorites. I will be here everyday in shaa Allah.

P.S. "in shaa Allah" = God willing

Abellio said...

Wow, woman the Spirit is working mightily in you! Came here from a blog search for "Rene Guenon" and got some of the most intelligent (in the full sense of the word) discussion I have found on the web in some time.
There is a lot to comment on here and appreciate. Just a few thoughts. First, what you are doing in your first post on "Mother" is not so much exegesis as lectio divina, and in my humble opinion it is very good. You probably know this but a key difference between lectio and exegesis is that lectio is done with an eye toward personal reformation. It is a reception of the Logos into the intellect so that it might bear fruit, that we might be not just hearers of the word but doers also. Andrew I thought your contributions in the new creation were really valuable. Reminded me of some passages from "Mediations on the Tarot." The water of the old creation, which symbolically is pure potential, is transformed into the wine of the new creation, the marriage of heaven and earth.
Regarding Steiner I must say, although there are things of worth in his thought and worth in Anthroposophy, I think it is preparatory to the counter-initiation. Certainly Guenon thought so. See his book "Theosophy: History of a Pseudo-Religion." The big problem with Steiner,(and I admit I have not studied him in depth, having made a judgment, after a time, that there were better things) is his thought never moves beyond the Cosmos, thus he would have us return to servitude to the elements of the Cosmos, the very elements from which the Logos-made-man has freed us. Admittedly the cosmic mysteries are attractive after being enclosed in scientific materialism for so long, but this is part of the dialectical strategy of the counter-initiation.
Which brings me to another point: true initiation is a vertical, God-ward movement, not a horizontal historical movement. It is a grace-enabled scaling of the Tree of Life, a movement through the angelic hierarchy.
Your mediation on womb is very suggestive. I would tentatively put it this way: Principally the womb is the infinite, the metacosom, the beyond-being, the inexhaustible divine fecundity. But its mirror image, according to the principle of inverse analogy is pure potency. And since the fall this has become the Abyss, the scattering expanse of indefinitude that sin opens up, and into which the counter-initiation leads. (Read Jean Borella’s beautiful and illuminating pages on this in “The Sense of the Sacred.”) In the human microcosm the womb is the intellect, or in the Hebrew understanding, the Heart. It is the place within us where God awaits our waiting on Him, (again paraphrasing Borella.) And since I keep referring to Jean Borella, I will say that, in my opinion the best introduction to Christian Esotericism as opposed to Esoteric Christianity, is his book “The Secret of the Christian Way.” There you will find a Biblically informed account of the “pneumatization of the intellect” which is, I think, what you are moving towards in your meditation on the womb.

Andrew very perceptively mentions C.S. Lewis’ The Abolition of Man. I would only add that Lewis imaginatively realizes that world in which “Man’s conquest of Nature turns out, in the moment of its consummation, to be Nature’s conquest of Man.” in his novel “That Hideous Strength.” There, and throughout the whole Ransom Trilogy, Lewis explores how materialist “solidification” (in Guenonian terms) allies itself with pseudo-initiatic occultism. One way in which materialist science is already striving to reconstitute God’s creation is through the dust-like pixels of virtual reality. Indeed much media now acts not as a sign pointing toward reality and ultimately God, but leads man back to his ego.
Thanks so much Caryl, and commentators for sharing your thoughts.

Caryl said...

Abellio-
I wanted to thank you for your thoughtful and challenging reply. The part about Steiner was fascinating - esp. since you imply that his path was a "horizontal historical movement" - and my main problem with Anthroposophy ever since I became involved with it (back in the 1970's) was its lack of historical consciousness.
The question of history and initiation is one that interests me very much. I have been trying to read some of Guenon's other books but they are so "lofty," so "outside of history" that my mind just can't focus on it.
Anyway I'll be interested in your further thoughts.

Abellio said...

Caryl,Thanks for your reply. There are not many people with whom one can talk about these things, although they are really central. With regard to Anthroposophy and horizontal/historical movement,(and as I said, I am no expert on this) I was thinking of Steiner's evolutionism. Guenon and the Traditionalists hold to devolution. You can see this in The Reign of Quantity. I think this is the view of all traditional civilizations and the view of the Bible. (For example the dream of the Giant statue in book of Daniel) A good and thoughtful book on modern and traditional views of history is Mircea Eliade's book The Myth of the Eternal Return. Eliade was influenced by Guenon but unlike Guenon was a very respected scholar in the Academy (which is no insult to Guenon since in many good ways he was beyond all that) ,and unlike him remained a Catholic. In that book he discusses the difference that the Incarnation made in the Ancient cyclical view. But he does not oversimplify as do some, labeling the cyclic view of time pagan and the linear, Christian and that's that. I think all in all he is probably easier to read. For a short, clear introduction to Guenon and his world, I have found nothing better than Jean Borella's article "Rene Guenon and the Traditionalist School" in Modern Esoteric Christianity edited by Antoine Faivre. The framework that Borella gives helps enormously in understanding Guenon.
I would say that since initiation always entails death and rebirth (a new beginning) on a higher plane of existence it necessarily means a movement away from time to eternity, because in order to move higher, or if you like deeper, we must move closer to the atemporal center, God.