Thursday, January 17, 2008

By The Way

From what I understand from May’s comment, my readers' interest, as opposed to just May’s, might extend to Jessica after all. Maybe I’ll write more on her soon, though no promises.

By the way…..

I recently found the following piece of writing. It concerns the bearded or not so bearded one in the sky. I wrote it in the otherwise unproductive year of 1999, while I was living and suffering a grubby, lost existence in Islington, though my life did have its moments of light.

Or at least I’m pretty sure I wrote it. I’ve edited it and added to it to improve it, though generally I don’t like changing my old writings too much. For those ill-disposed to abstraction it will be desperately dull, no doubt. Thank God the concrete is abundantly provided for on the rest of the web.

‘It is one thing to believe God does not exist. It’s quite another to refuse existence to that whole category of human feelings, sensitivities, intuitions and desires which for thousands of years have attached themselves in love and loyalty to the notion of God.

Yet in dismissing God as a fantasy, can we be certain the atheist doesn’t also bury and deny, intentionally or not, the reality of this dimension of humanity which understands itself as directed toward God. If the atheist has such a destructive intention, we can not only reprimand him for an unjustified identification of distinct mental entities, for fallaciously deducing the non-existence of 'the aspiration towards God' from 'their own belief that God does not exist'; we can also charge him, moreover, with a grotesque flight from the principles of empiricism (for without doubt, humanity possesses this aspiration towards the divine). We might accuse him also of wishing to impose his own conception of an ideal humanity on the real humanity which confronts and surrounds him; and therefore, in his own way, of behaving like a God, attributing to his own finite suppositions an objective importance greater than they possess.

Roger Scruton tells us that "consolation from imaginary things is not an imaginary consolation". We might add that aspiration to the stature, beauty and perfection of imaginary things is not an imaginary aspiration.

But then, how do we know these things are entirely imaginary anyway?

Perhaps God exists, perhaps he doesn't. Perhaps we don't even know what "exist" means; not even for empirically attestable objects let alone entities that may arrogantly, stubbornly defy the scope and access of our senses and comprehension; and perhaps we don't even know what we mean by God? Perhaps we're not even sure what we're questioning when we ask if God exists or not; or know what we're searching for when we seek proofs of the reality of this hypothesis?

But whether or not God exists, what certainly does is this facility in man to apprehend his experience and involvements with the world in concepts rich and pregnant in meaning, loftiness, beauty, transcendent ideation; with words and symbols that lack an immediate, physical functionality and which, conscious of their own inadequacy, shy away from any too exact claim over the universe."

I’m almost certain I wrote this (I’ve edited it a bit); though I don’t clearly remember doing so. It would be very embarrassing to find out I didn’t! If I did, and I believe I did, it’s one of the only things I wrote in the late 90s, when I wrote hardly anything, not even to friends, not even to Lee, nor even to david.

How I’d today express this piece’s central idea is to say that if we get rid of God we must also get rid of an essential part of our human nature; that part which has only ever understood itself, and known itself, to stand in an intimate relation with an external, transcendent ‘other’. When this external other is excised from the fabric of our universes, so too are those elements of our selves with which it had communed. The effect of that excision is that we must become diminished; as we have become diminished, as atheism, and its consequence, narcissism, or the ‘idolatry of the ego’s self-image’, has taken on more and more of a hold.

Not that I’ve got anything that much against atheists, mind. They serve their purposes. They give the Religious Idolators, who construct God in their own, flawed images, the raw deal they deserve. As regards the rest of us, they help clear out the clutter collecting on the face of the void; the void, the portal of the divine, the gateway to plenitude, the other side of void. For example, atheists are usually equally as dismissive of the occult and magic and other obstacles to communion with God, as they are of God himself.

Still, that said, with respect to atheists - and I have a lot of respect for atheists by the way, especially for their often ethically based motivations - I’ve never understood what atheism means. How can you deny God unless you know what this God is you’re denying. And if you know what God is, wouldn’t that be because you’d met him; or, alternatively, because you’d identified God with the ideas of someone else who had, or claimed he had. But if you have met him, wouldn’t that be because he exists? And if what you are denying is just someone else’s ideas, mediated by mere words, what is the reason to presume God as he is in-himself (presuming he exists) is this “God” of this person’s ideas about God?

If I say God is X, you might think X is ludicrous, that X does not exist. All the while I might be mistaken to think God is X because God is in fact Z. But because all you can imaginatively accommodate about the notion of God is my presentation of X-as-God, in your denial of X-as-God you also deny the very possibility that God might be Z.

I like to think of this as the pitch having been queered for everybody else, everybody else meaning other possibilities regarding the nature and reality of God.

Oh well, coffees must be made, coffees must be drunk. The earth and its claims return and descend to the concrete I must. Not that I have any objections. The concrete can be marvellous.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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