The delight of the esoteric system builder is the convergence of traditional myth, theory, and the subtle phenomenal content of consciousness. I mean theory in the ordinary sense—a mechanical (rational) system where things are interrelated and caused (inferred) by law. A theory is the metalanguage that constitutes intelligibility, and it itself is maximally transparent. When this, your Map, fits perfectly with received and authorized mythology, and you yourself have mapped your own self to the part of the myth-supported theory, you experience an extreme pleasure that has no parallel.
This is surely what happened to the unknown author of the famous Sefer Yetzirah, which became the foundational architectonic for all of Western mysticism, when he hit upon his ontology of diagrammatic emanation. It was all inspired by the accidental word order inside an inconsequential passage from one of the books of Hebrew mythology.
Recall the “order of emanation” outlined in the oracular and Rorschach-like Sefer Yetzirah:
- Beauty (assent-soliciting objective integration)
- Endurance (victorious patience)
- Glory (majesty)
- Kingdom (intersubjective agreement).
It is the first four emanations—Will, Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge—that interest us here. These are obviously the most important because they are closest to the source of emanation, to the nothing/limitless/infinite light that is the ground of being totally outside human apprehension. And they are mysterious because they begin the translation of the numinous and wholly other into things having grades of homogeneity with intelligibility and the stuff of the epistemic subject. The order of the lower (and already-familiar) grades is arbitrary. But those first few steps! How does one being translating from a starting point that is by definition completely outside the horizon?
Step 1 is Will. Will is the primordial existent in every religious and mystical system. It is surely the deepest and first ontological element for us. Epistemic subjects find their own first self in the spontaneous part of agency. Will is prior to all other subjective attributes. Will is the core power not only of God, but also of Purusha and Brahman (Indian orthodox); the Unconditioned and Emptiness (Buddhist); and the Processual Great Ultimate (Taoist).
Of course, for the Western esoteric traditions, the priority of the Will is famously axiomatic—Neo-Platonic, Gnostic, Kabbalistic, and Sufi. The ontological priority of Will is defended and assumed throughout the entire history of of Western philosophy and reaches a zenith in Leibniz, Kant, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre. And it lives on today in the new religious movements like Scientology and its self-consciously Heideggerian offshoot, Landmark (est).
So it is no surprise to find it at the top of Jewish-mystical emanation system.
But what about the sequence that follows? Finally something novel and uniquely Jewish—Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge. What? And—why? What is the basis of the order?
An accident, it turns out:
The Lord spoke to Moses: See, I have called by name Bezalel son of Uri son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: and I have filled him with divine spirit, with wisdom (ability), understanding (intelligence), and knowledge in every kind of craft, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, in every kind of craft.
♬ That’s♩bout ♬ … the … size ♫ … of ♪ … it! ♫
Is it surprising that, among the 79,976 words of the Torah, we find a word-sequence that plugs nicely into a (barely) plausible emanation schema? Of course not. But for someone (like the author of Sefer Yetzirah) who believes that Torah is itself Perfect Divine Artifact, such a happy find must have been a spine-tingling validation.
Constructing a map in accordance with extra-mental facts is painful and laborious. But finding that one’s Received Map, favored by traditional authority, has been one again confirmed! How? By some new discovery made inside the the approved mythological canon we’ve already over-read for 2000+ years.
Writing about the same anything for 2000-plus years is already bizarre and kind of upsetting. It means that some bit of horseshit has probably been spread into nooks where she didn’t belong.
But that’s exactly what ravenous reason wants. Truth ought to be everywhere equally.
Think about that. That’s a deep idea. This is the goal of physics. The GUT will be true at every point, capturing its bundle of values as calculations by time-portion through algebraic laws and also its very being. All properties and substance itself is understood, as the necessary (mathematical) consequence
The GUT will be true at every point, capturing its bundle of values as calculations by time-portion through algebraic laws and also its very being. All properties and substance itself is understood, as the necessary mathematical consequence
set of “books”
, is comforting and encouraging.
Note that the Received Map is not just intelligible, but is maximally intelligible. The way that things must be is the standard of mythological intelligibility, so of metaphysical intelligibility. It is thus both the standard and essence of intelligibility itself. When you employ the accepted mythic description of the way things must be as your very metalanguage (as the endpoint of cognitive digestion and appropriation), you enjoy the incomparable delight of carrying in yourself a Perfect Certainty. This is no small pleasure.
(For more on Brian and CCADC, see [[LINK TO BRIAN]].)
fitting an imaginary Ultimate Reality to a popular (and totally intelligible) model is fun and encouraging. Nothing is more transparent and familiar to consciousness than myth and theory, because these are ideal structures, woven from sentience itself. Discovering that side-facts of myth (like letter order, word order, gematric values, letter counts, word counts, and other code-like approaches) conform to one’s favored metaphysical system must feel like pure joy and the highest kind of confirmation.
What is being confirmed is the negation of the empirical-real and the reality of the rational-ideal. It is the triumph of wishful thinking over physical facticity. The object being confirmed when system and myth converge is not empirical law, but a reality more real than sense reality. Mythic metaphysics is about the highest reality, and the highest reality is not the one that fits with the most empirical data, but the one that we most desire.
Myth expresses the triumph of the subject over the object. Metaphysics (and theology) extracts essences from myth and then situates them in a causally-interrelated system, or theory. Metaphysics and physics are both inferential systems of facts, but their objective referents are hope and sensation, respectively.
The idea that being is made out of speech is the perennial premise of rationalism and idealism
Transparent—because rules are absent (flat)
Graspable—because concepts are names of ruled subjective act
Supportable—because transparent concepts are the matter of truth-bearing (world- or criteria-of-correctness-reaching) judgment, and judgments are supported by other judgments.
Words are names of concepts, and concepts are rules of image-making. Such rules seem to be Platonic universals since they (1) are absent from physical reality, and (2) cover all possible instances. And so the notion that kinds are a special kind of real object arises.
Myth is all about hope, desire, and fear. They treat issues of “ultimate importance.” These “issues” are those pro-survival attitudes produced by billions of years of behavior tweaking. Behavior is not invented at every expression; rather, it is the expression of habit that is always there, running in the background. This always-running-in-the-background is the cluster of hopes, desires, and fears that constitute my self. Myth is the language of bio-survival, made intelligible to discursive consciousness—the narrativization of the organism’s deepest strivings.
Rationalism says that the rules of intelligibility are the rules of reality. There are ways in which our concepts and knowledge are gained independently of sense experience. PNC is undeniably a litmus for any (intelligible) ontology, and it may not end there. There may be other, more contentful principles that allow us to infer more interesting (synthetic) propositions about reality.
Confession: Sitting at the feet of Brian Powell and believing that he really was the avatar of Christ (or sometimes St. Paul, he alternated) were some of the most profound moments of my life. Absolute security. Being in jail was were angry-loving Sky Father wanted me to help me. He put me there to put me in contact with what I’d always been searching for.
The fact that I was being slowly killed by a strangling cloud of YOUR LIFE IS OVER did not lessen my joy. All my life I had
. His lesson: the Good News of the Bible
(I’m not being facetious. I don’t undervalue happiness—read (here): I don’t think being right is more important that being happy. I don not think Knights of Faith like Koons, Plantinga, and suicide bombers are fake-happy. I think they are most happy and I envy them.
Sitting at the feet
Even when I was in jail,