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Lifted human

Wednesday, 19 December 2018 at 13:41

What is relation?

It is the integration of active and passive elements. I relate to you and you relate to me. I reach out to you and you reach out to me. In the verbs of these sentences there is action by one and a passive receipt of action by the other. Active and passive elements mirror each other.

Encounter provides the key to reopening the door of mystery.

‘What am I?’ I still do not know.

I do know that the stage of individuation is a false grail. It is not here that the mystery lies.

However, to ask the grail question does mark a coming to consciousness. The question is the grail, not the answer.

But what of this consciousness, or conscience as Coleridge preferred to develop the issue?

C. G. Jung

The death of the self in Tikkun is not the extinction of being, but rather of consciousness, whether the assimilation is into the Spinozan Substance, Jung’s Unus Mundus or the ‘I am I’.

And whereas both animals and humans share the status of being, it is consciousness that lifts the human above the animal.

Having travelled the long and hard road to individuation to develop and purify the active element of being, it was hard to accept that consciousness needs another element, a passive element. There is no consciousness without these two elements, and the suppression of this duality in the Spinozist Substance, or the Absolute I of Idealism, must necessarily lead to the extinction not of being but rather of consciousness.

Consciousness is the mystery, not being.

© John Dunn.


Saturday, 8 December 2018 at 17:20

The conflation of Sara Hutchinson and Beatrice with Eve reminds me of a statement attributed to the novelist, Francois Mauriac: ‘A chance encounter between two people can have implications for eternity.’

Mauriac, in turn, was influenced in this idea by Gabriel Marcel who remarked that ‘relationships between things are external, relationships between people are internal.’

Better he had said that some relationships between people are internal, not all by a long way.

Daniel Paul Schreber (1842 – 1911)

Remember Schreber’s metamorphic nightmare of becoming a feminised Jew, 
a bundle of of sense-impressions, with no inner core.

This Weineringian composite is the universalised state of mankind in the 'Republick of Merchants' - in Weininger’s terms, the death of the creative self, in short, dehumanisation.

And yet the chance encounter instills the ‘I’ where there was emptiness before.

 The moment of sirenic temptation from the pathway to truth becomes a moment of 
transformative learning, the resurrection of the self, the creative self which, in Coleridge’s terms, equates to the divine self.

© John Dunn.

Happy fall

Friday, 7 December 2018 at 17:47

You could say that before meeting Asra, Coleridge had neither consciousness nor conscience. The love for Sara Hutchinson was a redemptive sin, a fall with positive consequences that echoed others.

Did not Dante’s decision to press beyond the garden in Canto XXVII of Purgatory show that it was not just a point of arrival, but the necessary pre-condition for moral life? He was drawn on to continue his journey by the prospect of meeting Beatrice. In tempting him beyond the garden Beatrice assumed the role of Eve.

Was not Milton’s Eve aware of vain labours in a garden ever more luxuriant and forever on the verge of wilderness?

The argument with Eve in Book IX of Paradise Lost exposed Adam to the truth of what Eve had known all along.

Their strained contentment in the Garden was no way to live - docile, passive and slaves to nature.

In Book Twelve,Adam proclaims that the good resulting from the Fall that Eve induced is ‘more wonderful’ than the goodness in creation. He exclaims:

Oh goodness infinite, goodness immense!

That all this good of evil shall produce,

And evil turn to good; more wonderful

Than that which by creation first brought forth

Light out of darkness!
Sin and transgression became a positive act of defiance that resonates with the felix culpa, the happy fall, of Augustine’s writings: ‘For God judged it better to bring good out of evil than not to permit any evil to exist’ (Enchridion). In other words, Eve is essential to forward development.

© John Dunn.


Thursday, 6 December 2018 at 22:08

Sara Hutchinson on Dr John Dunn. The encounter which finally swept away the last vestiges of Spinozism from Coleridge’s worldview was his extramarital encounter with Sara Hutchinson, or Asra as he refashioned her name.

Coleridge’s encounters with German idealism and Sara Hutchinson came in quick succession, the first in 1798, the second in 1799. It was the combination of philosophical idealism and extra-marital love that was incendiary, not the former in isolation, which Coleridge ultimately deemed to be inadequate because of its Spinozist polarity.

Fichte came close, with his invitation to imagine the first encounter of two human beings, the summoning to a mutuality of experience, a ‘reciprocal interaction’. However, the result of encounter for Fichte was synthesis, a reduction of two to one, rather than the feminine principle of reflection, resulting in not one, or even two, but the three of fecund creativity.

Originally drafted as ‘Letter to Sara Hutchinson’, ‘Dejection: An Ode’ was later grouped with the Asra poems that were dedicated to Sara.

Ostensibly about unrequited love and loss - it announces too the philosophical changes in Coleridge:

It were a vain endeavour,
Though I should gaze for ever
On that green light that lingers in the west :
I may not hope from outward forms to win
The passion and the life, whose fountains are within.

Gone would be a dependence on ‘outward forms’ and his own sense perception of them as the source of inspiration. Empiricism was the ‘vain endeavour’ from which nothing is gained, however long he might ‘gaze’.

© John Dunn.

fire meets with FIRE

Wednesday, 5 December 2018 at 17:23

Union with the Divine is not the absorption of being by Divine Being, as Tomberg explained:

…fire meets with FIRE, Then nothing is extinguished in the human personality but, on the contrary, everything is set ablaze. This is the experience of ‘legitimate twofoldness’ or the union of two separate substances in one sole essence.

Two separate substances and one sole essence = three. Know this and know why the God of love is revealed to human consciousness as the eternal Trinity—the Loving One who loves, the Loved One who loves, and their Love who loves them: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Consciousness is not lost.

To be conscious is to be human.

It is love that awakens consciousness.

This is where the magic resides. Human consciousness is magic.

Mind is magic in the sense that our consciousness as fully human beings cannot be subject to rational explanation.

© John Dunn.

The heart of it

Monday, 3 December 2018 at 17:41

Like Spinoza, Fichte and Gentile, we can choose monism and argue that there is only one sole being. Or we can choose dualism and see that there are two principles in the world: good and evil, spirit and matter. After all, were not Zarathustra, Prometheus and Jesus confronted by evil?

And in the same way that Buber called this dualistic mode the ‘encounter’, (the mode of I–Thou), insisting that it is best described as love, Tomberg also argued:

Two…is the number of love or the fundamental condition of love which it necessarily presupposes and postulates.. . because love is inconceivable without the Lover and the Loved, without ME and YOU, without One and the Other.

Valentin Tomberg

If God were only One, be that an infinitely distant Jehovah, or the solipsistic ‘I am I’ of the idealist philosophers, or Spinoza’s Substance, he would not be the God of whom St. John says:

God is love; and he who abides in love abides in God and God abides in him. (I John iv, 16)

He would not be this, because he would love no one other than himself, but more than this, he would be the magician without consciousness, or conscience. He would have, however, the status of being, which is, afterall, the Spinozist claim, i.e. that God is not love, he is being, universal being.

This Spinozist claim is applicable to the mineral realm, sufficing to arrive at the morally neutral idea of being. For the mineral is.

In contrast, love is not neutral from the point of view of moral life, but rather at the heart of it, which is critical to the understanding of ourselves as human beings.

© John Dunn.


Sunday, 2 December 2018 at 21:23

Consciousness is where the magic lives and encounter opened the door to it.

Where better then to turn than to a Magician, as Valentin Tomberg did in his Meditations upon the Tarot.

Valentin Tomberg

In meditating upon the tarot card that has the image of the Magician, Tomberg describes an adept at perfect ease with his craft. What he does with his hands is with perfect spontaneity— it is easy play and not work. He himself does not follow the movement of his hands; his gaze is elsewhere.

Tomberg suggests a kind of spiritual attunement or atOnement on the part of The Magician, a connection with the Divine – that results, quite literally, in grace-full creativity.

In the magician’s deftness of hand, Tomberg presents an analogy of being that is concentration without conscious effort, which is magical.

But this standpoint is not without its limitations. Both the genius and the limitations of the Magician are summed up at the beginning of Tomberg’s second meditation as follows:

But the pure act . . . in itself cannot be grasped; it is only its reflection which tenders it perceptible, comparable and understandable or, in other words, it is by virtue of the reflection that we become conscious of it.

© John Dunn.

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