Who is God?
This is probably the most fundamental of human questions. And not a question that is asked often enough. And there are many flippant answers to this question, as well as dogmatic ones, and perhaps a few reasoned ones, but none of those answers gets to its core. All proofs of God leave us unsatisfied. And we try to cling to the idea that belief alone can satisfy us. We think it is up to us to decide whether we believe, or whether we are atheist, which is another belief system, or whether we just don’t know and cling to our lack of knowledge and call ourselves agnostic. And so most of the talk about religion stays at this extremely superficial level. And we are satisfied with that because it does not call into question who we are, nor the tradition to which we pay homage, and it is the easy way out for mere mortals. As Nietzsche says the Last Man blinks . . . and blinks . . .
But what if we were to attempt to understand the full import of this question, and take ourselves seriously as the ones responsible for the answer. What if we were to go beyond dogmatism, or simple belief, or atheism, or agnosticism to the core of the matter? That might take some doing, but perhaps it would be worth it, if along the way we found out something more about ourselves, as we find ourselves embedded in the Western Tradition for which this is a key question, offering a plethora of answers, but few of which really seem to provide meaning to us anymore.
But where to start? Well as always we need to establish a context for this question and comprehend its problematic, and then set out on the journey, not knowing where it will take us, but willing to confront both our own limitations and the overwhelmingness of what lies beyond our kenning along the way.
Now of course, the place to start if we are within the Western worldview is with the Divided Line of Plato that establishes the structure of our worldview. And that divided line distinguishes between ratio and doxa at the first level and within ratio between the representable and the non-representable intelligible. On the other hand it establishes the difference between grounded and ungrounded belief, or appearance, or opinion. And what is seldom mentioned it establishes the limits of the divided line, which are on the one hand contradiction, paradox, and absurdity, and at the other limit the supra-rational. Now if you don’t understand this as the core structure of the worldview established long ago and never-changing throughout the metaphysical era, then it is easy to misunderstand the nature of the question as to the Whoness of God. It is of course the quarrying the whoness that makes this question profound, because it of course rebounds on us and forces us to ask of ourselves Who are we? And when we answer that in the Western tradition, we have to say that We are Indo-Europeans who have a unique relation to existence in that we cover it up with the Illusion of Being. And of course this comes out in the question with the often missed presence of the verb “IS”. WHO IS GOD? Can be a question as to the whoness of the Supreme Being. But then who are we to ask after that whoness of the Supreme Being, i.e. mere mortals. But we have talked about this unique character of Indo-Europeans many times in our fire side chats, where questions are asked and answers appear as if from out of thin air.
What I want to do here is to focus on Blake and his reading of the question, which is a deep reading. He lived at a time when reason had just discovered that there were many faces of the Supreme Being in the Bible. So the question came up as to how to reconcile all these various versions of God that did not seem to unify very well. Blake looked deeply into the matter. And we should all take a lesson from him, after all Blake saw God directly looking at him in through his window. Blake was a deeply spiritual human being. He struggled mightily to express his insights and in the process invented the first multimedia, which is so important to us today. So if we are going to have a multimedia say understanding of the whoness of God, notice we are not asking about the nature of god, in which case we would be discussing the absolute. Rather we are sticking closely to the question as our guide and asking about Whoness. And that was really Blakes question to himself. Who was this schizophrenic god that appeared in the bible under so many different guises saying such contradictory things in His split personality.
So Blake write a prequel to the bible called the Four Zoas or VALA in manuscript which he never printed, because he knew it would get him into trouble. It tells the story of Albion, the Ur-God who goes to sleep and dreams of the various personages of the Godhead that we meet in the Bible who Blake named Urizen, Tharmas, Urthowna, and Luvah. We know from Hinduism’s Brahman and from Meister Eckhart that the Godhead is like a great desert without characteristic, and that this is the nature of the absolute which has no Whoness. It is of interest that in Meister Eckhart saw personality of God and its characteristics as being the result of the boiling of the Godhead. And we know now that boiling is chaotic dynamic behavior, and that means that it is entered by symmetry breakings, and that means that prior to utter chaos there are some stable asymmetries created in the whoness of God prior to the onset of utter chaos which we know as polytheism. So it is these initial symmetry breakings leading to Chaos within the Godhead that Blake is exploring. We call these Zoas the children of Albion, but actually they are mostly personas of Albion that haunt him in his slumber, much as the slumber of Vishnu is haunted by the dichotomy between Brahma/Shiva (Apollo/Dionysus). Instead of fire, Vishnu dreams laying on a snake on boundless ocean of the godhead. The snake or dragon is of course existence. A single flower rises from the naval of Vishnu sleeping and on that flower sits Brahma (the person of the god) that emanates briefly before turning into its opposite Siva.
So instead of only two duals being generated out of the Godhead Blake sees four personalities as emanating from Vishnu/Albion. These are the Zoas, or the living-ones. And each breaks into His female counterpart or emanation, the specter, and the shadow. The four Zoas are about the interaction of these various Zoas within the ur-time prior to creation that occurs in Genesis. We will leave this story to the reader to read for himself. But what we learn from Blake is something very interesting, which is that while the God of the Bible has multiple personality disorder, that schizophrenia, or psychosis is merely the remnant of a dream by the Godhead, in which of the personalities of god manifested and interacted prior to the manifestation of creation. Blake fills in this crucial interspace between the godhead and creation, which explains the various personalities of god that appear in the bible.
Unlike Starwars this prequel is itself very interesting because it directly answers the question of the Wholeness of God, and the relation between the absolute and the manifest split personalities of the supposedly monotheistic God. Of course, the hardest to reconcile is the difference between the God of Creation (Urthowna) who walks in the Garden, and the Jealous God (Tharmas) who makes contracts and punishes those who transgress the terms of those contracts, and The God of Spinoza and other Rational Transcendentalists (Urizen), or the god of the Christians (for whom evil is only privation) who is suppose to be all sweetness and light (Luva).
So each of these personalities of God (kinds of wholeness) that mediate between the Absolute Ur-God and the differentiation of God within monotheism which takes a stand against polytheism that we see in for instance the texts of Ugarit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ugarit). The bad guys in the bible are the Canaanites. They are polytheists on the same model as the Greeks inherited from Samaria. Polytheism is the dominant milieu that is the background against which Monotheism defines itself. And the differentiation between the personalities of God that appears in the Old and New Testament is a hold over from that milieu. But this multi-personality disorder of God brings to the fore the question of the whoness of the Supreme Being, and of course this is problematic.
But the key insight of Blake that we can take back to our understanding of the structure of our Semito-Indoeuropean (read Judeo-Christian) worldview which is enshrined in the Divided Line is the fact that Plato’s Divided Line is only related to one of the Zoas, Urizen. So Blake is telling us in the subtext of his prequel that there are really four divided lines and in our tradition based on Plato we have only really developed one of these divided lines out of the four. Because of that asymmetry our whole tradition is skewed in a fundamental way. In other words, Plato develops only one of the four possible regimes identified by Blake, and that of course has a fundamental affect on the development of our tradition. And of course when Spinoza looks back at the bible and sees that it is full of contradictions, it is Urizen as Urthowna who again becomes the model for the rebellion against Christian religion, which had come under the spell of Luvah in the New Testament on the background of Tharmas in the Old Testament. In other words there is merely a structural transformation that opens up the Enlightenment and distinguishes it from the superstition of Christian religion, which had hoped to reconcile itself with reason but in the end failed. We have been lost in this divided between Reason (Urizen) and its obsession with Nature (created by Urthowna) and Religious Superstition held entranced by Luvah and Tharmas. But both Religion and Science is just part of a single field described the Divided Line. Religion as ungrounded opinion retreats toward the limit of paradox and absurdity with Trinitarian doctrine. As Science clings to representational ineligibles in the ratio attempting to build a bridge to grounded belief though empiricism. Science represents a bridge between the two middle segments of the divided line in opposition to ungrounded belief. It is Grounded opinion based on the torture of nature created by Urthowna, and Urizen bound to representations which are theories about empirical results. What is left out of this is the Non-representable Intelligible which were the whole purpose of producing the divided line in order to show the way to them. They are mass-like concepts such as Truth, Right, Identity, Presence which are the Aspects of Being, or Order, Right, Good, Fate which are the nonduals at the core of the worldview. Dialectics is directed at attempting to understand these non-representable upon which everything depends. For Plato there are two bookends to the Divided Line one is the Outward Sun (Atem) and the other is the Sun of the Good, which is invisible, which is Amun, manifest. Between them is what is manifest, which is Ra that appears in the divided line between these extremes. The divided line fundamentally presents us with the Egyptian Trinity as a synthetic structure. And we are reminded that the Semito-Indoeuropean nomadic basis of our culture is painted on a background of the difference between Samaria/Mesopotamia and Egyptian Cultures. Where the Greek gods come from Mesopotamian origins the basis of structure of experience has its roots in Egypt. Trinitarianism has a deep structure not just among the Indo-Europeans but also in Egyptian Religion. From Egypt we take the idea of the regeneration as Osiris becomes Horus, and from the Indo-Europeans we take the idea of the Avatar, and “vala” there is a sudden inspiration by Paul that if we could just combine Messianic Judaism and Mithrism that we could build a world religion that would accept in the Gentiles and turn polytheists into Monotheists. And it worked. And strangely one the reasons it worked was because Christianity affirmed the body at a time when philosophy rejected the body. Christianity pursued Belief without the limitations of reason against the background of slavery in which the only realm of freedom was in the mind and where the body and its ills were rejected by philosophy. Philosophy had already instilled as its basic doctrine dualism that Descartes took up and affirmed. And Christianity chose ungrounded belief and the body, over reason and the mind. It confronted the Roman Empire that enslaved one third of the world by clinging to its unreasonable beliefs in the face of direct oppression. The oddities of Judaism were accepted because it was ancient, and because it did not effect other polytheists just because it claimed that its god was the only one. In reality most Jews were polytheists as well and only paid lip-service to monotheism. But to the Romans the Christian position was a contradictory innovation. They claimed to be monotheists when they in fact believed as did the Polytheists that god could have a son. They were gentiles who took up living like Jews, yet did not follow all the Jewish laws. Christianity in effect was a bundle of absurdities, but it was precisely their clinging to this limit of the divided line, that gave them an advantage over the polytheists. Their religion was almost indistinguishable from Mithrism which was the universal religion of the Roman Army who had abandoned the belief in the gods of Rome rehabilitated from Greek sources. And because Christianity was a bundle of absurdities the fact that God had multiple personalities was just part of the whole mix. The fact that much of Christianity came from Mithrism whose source was Paul’s home town did not worry early Christians. The fact that they were rejected by the Jews they sought to emulate did not worry the myriad Gentiles that became Christian as soon as Paul lifted the regulations that would have made it difficult to be Jewish. For Paul all these distinctions were just niceties that could be ignored when the end of time was neigh. And so it goes which conversions to Christianity becoming made it one of the fastest growing religions of all time. There were a lot of slaves in the Roman Empire that could easily give rise to what Nietzsche called a slave religion, but the irony is that it was based on the uniqueness of Judaism. Not only did the Roman Army who were Mithrists kill Jesus but also they destroyed the temple and smashed the one holy site of Judaism where sacrifice was allowed. Christianity came out of the interface between the Roman State and the Jewish State and the inevitability of the destruction of the Temple with the multiple Messiahs operating as rabble-rousers. One of those rabble-rousers became personified as the avatar of God. Many different elements came from the various cultural background of the Western worldview. From Egypt we get Tractarianism, and also the worship of Amun an invisible god as the only god. Akhenaten has tried that previously with Aten and his image was erased from Egyptian history for his sacrilege. From Mithrism we get the sacrifice, the eating of the flesh and drinking of the blood of the sacrificial victim, and the dualism of the forces of light fighting against the forces of darkness. From the Indo-Europeans we get the idea of the Avatar of God who is embodied in time. From the Egyptians we get the idea of the regeneration, as Osiris who was dismantled into parts becomes Horus with the help of Isis. From the Canaanites we get El as the father of the Gods, God the Father. From the Jews we get a kind of shaky idea of monotheism that only becomes a driving idea after the destruction of the temple. From the Sumerians we get the idea of the journey into hades that we see in the journey of Innana which becomes the harrowing of Hell by the crucified Jesus before his entry into Heaven and his reincarnation. Many archetypal sources for the various motifs of Christianity, which took over the Roman empire and ruled over its demise in the West. But just as the Romans were really still only Greeks, so we are really still mostly Roman. And thus we hail from a line of democratic experiments gone awry, degenerating into empires. And the Western empires managed to take over the entire globe though colonialism, and now having lost political control in the former colonies have reasserted economic control though globalism wedded to corporatism (which is really just another unholy trinity of Nazism, Communism, and Capitalism distilled into a single imaginary personhood, i.e. a strange return to the gods which Plato said mankind was created to serve. In this regard it is interesting that early Christians were communalists and that it returned in Anabaptism only to be destroyed during the reformation. In our last century the ideologies of Communism, Fascism, and Capitalism vied for world control and it was the capitalists who won out, but only by adapting the essential elements of Communism and Fascism into itself as Corporatism. Thus we are ruled by a secret desire for trinatarianism that rules our lives and results in myriad deaths in the last century though ideology, as it was in the past done in the name of religion with inquisitions and the thirty years war to name only two atrocities. Corporatism is again about embodiment in the workers, shareholders, and customers of an imaginary person, the ghost in the (social) machine (pure spirit). Wherever there are three and they come together though a contract then this spirit is embodied there. Rational, and thus Ideological Secularism, and Religious superstition are not that different.
So we go through all this only to establish the background, which remains unthought, that exists beyond theism, atheism and agnosticism. Atheism started out as Transcendental Theism based on Reason as established by Spinoza as the beginning of the Enlightenment. But as Blake foresaw Kantian pure reason only results in Terror after the revolution in France when sovereignty was replaced by anarchy to such a point that a new sovereign, Napoleon was needed to restore order. And who says history does not repeat itself because both Napoleon and Hitler attacked Russia and were defeated by Nature, and then finished off by the British who they could not bring under their totalitarian grasp. And it was the spirit of the British that Blake hoped to encapsulate in his figure of Albion. That Blake and Hegel lived at roughly the same time is amazing, and if we combine their rational and spiritual visions we can learn a lot about our tradition that otherwise would remain hidden and beyond our reach.
We learn from Blake that our tradition has four divided lines and not one. And we learn from Hegel the fundamental historical progression of consciousness in the development of Western consciousness from the Roman Greek enslavement. If Blake writes a prequel then Hegel writs the sequel, where Spirit (the Holy Spirit embodied in the community in history) becomes the central concept of the embodiment of the Absolute in human time. It is not the Father and Son but the Spirit who needs to be understood more deeply to comprehend our fate. As Jung said we must confront Christ as the image of Self within our tradition, and not think we can escape it. But actually the deeper idea is the concept of spirit embedded in the community of the faithful because it is in this way that the Absolute actually enters into history, not as an Avatar. Christ is an image of the Self, but the Spirit is the picture of the synthesis of Self and Other bridging the gap between Father (Tharmas) and Son (Luvah). Spirit does not appear as any of the Zoas. Spirit is what binds the Zoas into Albion, binds Brahma/Shiva (Apollo/Dionysus) into Vishnu. Albion and Vishnu is our first glimpse of the nondual within the motifs of our Indo-European tradition.
We won’t go into Nonduality as we have in many other answers. Rather we will cling to this question of the personhood of the Supreme Being. And what we see though Hegel is that between Albion/Varuna (the nondual dreamer of reality, identity, truth, presence) there is an intermediary of Spirit between the Godhead and the emanations of the Zoas the principles of life in the bible, old and new estimates, has multiple personality disorder for those who would see these texts as the word of God. Blake tells us the prequel, which shows how the Godhead emanates the Zoas, the approaches to life, which further differentiate into Emanation, Spectre and Shadow. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectre_(Blake); http://facstaff.uww.edu/hoganj/gloss.htm; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake%27s_mythology) Of course, in Jungian terms the Emanation is the feminine Anima. And the Shadow should be those sides of the self that the ego does not want to admit are there. That leaves the Spectres as the embodiments of Spirit.
· Urthona (creator, inspiration) = Los (poetic prophecy, cf. “Seers” who produced the Vedas)
· Tharmas (parent power, labor, instinct, nature) = Death
· Luvah (passion) = Orc (rebellion)
· Urizen (reason) = Satan (God of Deism)
[Emergent Design page 165]
We are assuming here that the absolute is a mirror, and that when we look into it we see ourselves and in that reflection the absolute itself is broken up, as when Varuna or Albion sleep, and produce various images of themselves within their dreams. One thing that occurs in the Indo-European worldview is that Avatars are produced, like Christ, like Krishna which is god embodied in time, in history. But between the embodied avatar and the godhead there are various images that are produced which are the Zoas: Creator, Jealous God Father, Christ/Satan (Orc), The God of Reason dreamed up by the Deists starting with Spinoza who is another form of Satan for Blake, but whom we would call the empty god who was only omniscient, omnipresent, etc. in keeping with what was reasonable to expect in a God. These spectres of god are the manifestations of Spirit. In other words Spirit can be seen in prophetic prophecy such as that we see in the Vedas. Or it can be seen in the figure of death, as Nietzsche says sometimes the human spirit turns against life within life. There is Orc the spirit of rebellion who drove the French revolution into chaos exposing the flaw in enlightenment. And finally there is the reflection of the spirit as the image of pure reason in god which is the transcendentalist god of the Deists who like the Gods of the Gnostics is infinitely far away and unreachable.
This unfolding of God reminds us of the series from Hittite/Greek mythology of Ahalu, Uranus, Chronos, Zeus/Baal. But the difference is that there were framed as generations of gods, and they were on the Semitic model we see in Ugrit inherited from the Mesopotamians who inherited from the Sumerians. Ahalu was the forgotten God in this series. The first god and thus the last god. This is the series of the generations of the Greek polytheistic gods that were taken over by the Romans as their own and Latinized. The thing about polytheistic gods is that they were extremely local, but these local gods became conflated together to make up the pantheon that was universally worshiped as cultural gods, who were established by the Epics, many of which were lost. Against this background of polytheism and its bottom up, local to global development was the oddity of Judaism who were a people who said their god was the only god, and with whom they had a covenant as a nation. That God was Amun, an invisible, non-representable God taken from Egypt by Moses. But not the first monotheistic god, who was Aten of Akanaten, whose sacrilege was wiped out by the Egyptians who came after him. Akanaten was the first example of Orc, of the revolutionary, prophetic spirit in Egypt who had a special relation to Aten, one of the aspects of the Trinitarian god whose other aspects were Ra and Amun. The Semites were originally monotheistic and had a god El, who later became the father of the Canaanite pantheon. Moses took the idea of El as monotheistic and Amun who was a hidden non-representable god, and produced Yhwh as the face of the Original Semitic God but who was seen as non-representable and who was also monotheistic at the same time. El had taken on representations within the pantheon in which he was being displaced by the younger god Baal/Zeus. Moses sought to return to the concept of the non-representable monotheistic god established by Abraham who had the first covenant with god. Moses established the second covenant as a treaty rather than a largesse. This invisible non-reprepresentable monotheistic god was an anomaly in the polytheistic world, and while there were no representations of the god, there were stories that were oral then written about this God’s interactions with man. And these stories were eventually compiled into the Hebrew bible which told the story of the punishment of Israel for not living up to their part of the barging with their invisible god, but who spoke to Moses, and gave prophecies by angelic intermediaries to other prophets.
Within biblical history there was a development of this monotheistic god from creator out of nothing of everything, to jealous god who was Father of All, and finally with the coming of Paulism was associated with an Avatar – The Christ, and then with the coming of reason became a transcendental ideal of Spinoza and the later Deists. The whole question was how did this evolution of a single monotheistic god occur. It could not be explained with the idea of different generations of gods as the changes in Greek Polytheism were explained. But these deep structural changes as seen in the Zoas of Blake occur due to changes in us mirrored in the absolute. And so that is why it is so important to link the story of the Zoas in Blake and the phenomenological unfolding of consciousness in Hegel.
The key idea here is that the there are fractures in the absolute, so the whoness of God has structural changes that it undergoes and this is due to the fundamental changes we undergo historically which changes our relation to God and thus the personality we attribute to God. What Blake tells us is that the continuity that flows through those structural changes is spirit, which we see in the spectres. And the most fundamental of the spectres is Imagination, which we know from Kant is the intermediary between reason and the senses that produces a priori syntheses. Imagination is the key to Kant’s retrenchment against Humean skepticism. Blake saw prophecy as being creative, much like the Vedic seers, and so it was the poets who were in touch with the creative god, the one who owned the earth and was its creator. But once the world was created, along the Semitic lines where there was a Father of the Gods, God the Father was vengeful, jealous, and full of emotions and the largess of Patriarchalism. This is not the god who walked in the Garden and saw that what was created was good, but this was the god of the contract who brought his wrath down on those how did not fulfill the contract. The whole idea that humans could fulfill a contract with a God is a very extreme idea, because constancy goes against human nature. As long as the contract was the Abrahamic kind of largess then humans could fulfill that because it just meant being who they are, and they were given Israel and told to be fruitful and multiply, which is something they could do easily. But keeping to commandments were not in human nature, and so having a contract with curses on both sides for those who broke the contract of Moses which was the kind of contracts that occurred between nations was doomed to failure. And we can see that doomed quality acted out in the Hebrew bible as woes were visited on Israel because it did not live up to its contract with its god, and that god became angry and turned against the chosen people.
But later as a result of the many messianic movements within Judaism, one particular messiah was turned by Paul into a figure fit to be the object of a universal religion which structurally transformed the nature of God again into the Trinity, a great mystery and paradox even to its believers, who say just believe in this absurdity, and thus take a stand with the extreme of the divided line where ungrounded opinion and paradox lie. This radical stance with monotheism against polytheism but interpreting that finally as Trinitarians, and also affirmation of the suffering body of the slave, over the master, aligning with the universal religion of the Roman military called Mithraism, yet taking on the way of life of the Jews who had spread their synagogues out across the world via the roman highway system. So two universal religions were forged together by Paul and his successors into Christianity, which was not about the teachings of Jesus as much as the FACT of this resurrection in which all you had to do was believe to be SAVED, because He (as God, and as the Sacrifice of God by God to God, died for your sins. This of course reminds us of Odin who was sacrificed by himself to himself for nine days and nights hanging on a tree, the tree of the world, to learn the secret of the runes (letters). This reminds us of the other avatars of the Indo-European religions like Krishna. Mithrism which was an Indo-European mystery cult was combined with an apocalyptic form of Messianic Judaism to produce the utter antithesis of Roman Reasonableness developed by slave philosophers which rejected the body and clung to thought as the last bastion of human freedom in an enslaved world under Roman rule. Mithrism was a Greek mystery religion who used Persian content including the dualism between the Good and Evil Gods (Ahura Mazda and Arhiman), and the father of the sons Zurvan an invented synthesis.
At first the Christians thought they would find a way to reconcile their unfounded beliefs and absurdities with Reason. But slowly it became obvious that this was impossible and Reason itself broke away, eventually allying itself with grounded belief based on empirical evidence to found science, and once reason triumphed over superstitious unfounded religious belief musty by proving its efficacy in improving the world in which we live and giving us power over others via the technologies spawned by science, then Reason set out to redefine God in ways that could be recognized by reason, in terms of universal and absolute qualities like omniscience, omnipotence, and omni-X properties of all types comprehensible by reason alone. And now we stand at the end of the Metaphysical era where the divided against Empirical Rationality in the form of Transcendental Idealism of Kant which is the fundamental position of the Western tradition in philosophy stands against irrational superstition and ungrounded belief which we now call evangelicalism or even just musty old dogmatisms like those of the Catholic Church. The Protestant Reformation rebelled against the Universal, lets say totalitarian church, over the selling of indulgences starting with Luther, and became even more radical with Calvin, and took up a position that only belief was necessary and actions counted for nothing in the eyes of God who had already determined the fate of everyone in the afterlife. It is shocking to learn that the Reformation actually made things worse and intensified the nihilism of Christianity. It made people unaccountable for their actions, and so they could destroy the earth, and then say to themselves that it did not matter what they had done, because they were saved because they believed, they were born again.
Interestingly, what is left out of this is the Non-representable Intelligible which are relegated to the area of philosophy which science cannot touch and generally becomes theosophy, and thus the other enemy of Science as Empirical Reasoning. Thus we get Swedenborg and Jacob Bohme, and others that Hegel and Blake appeal to in order to find a way out of this impasse. The spirit in general is given sway in this last refuge that the Romantics see beyond reason. But all this takes place within the divided line laid down by Plato. It is this non-representable intelligible realm that Reason projects as the home of the Supreme Being, where all the transcendental qualities of the Absolute can be brought together without interfering with Science (Empirical Rationalism). So the non-representable intelligible become the home of the God of Rationality in the form of Deism as refined based on Spinoza’s first rational challenge to the God of Love (Luvah), and the God of Punishment (Tharmas), and the Creator God (Urthowna) who were mixed together as another irreconcilable trinity within trinatarianism. God the Son, God the Father, and God the Spirit (who moved across the waters, announced the birth of Jesus to Mary, and lives in the community of Paulists who are the body of Christ.) as One God yet three persons. The God of Reason, who is God and for whom Evil is only privation, with Omni-x characteristics is at the opposite end of the divided line, not as paradox but as quasi-absolute. Blake saw the God of Deism as Satan as manifest in our time. It was unbounded reason, which rebelled like Orc and gave us as the product of the Enlightenment the Terror of the French Revolution. And of course Terror gave rise to unbounded excess of Death, as anyone could be killed by those who were in charge of the revolution. This terror only grew during the 19th century and with the dawning of the 20th century. And in that nihilistic landscape of rebellion, deism, and death the poet (Los) could only lament the loss as Blake did in his 4 Zoas.
Who is God? In Polytheism God evolved though generations until Zeus and his brothers a trinity learned to put a stop to the generational warfare and bring stasis to Olympus after the destruction of the Titans. They married Thetis off to a human and thus remained free from the rebellion of a future generation of the gods. Stasis was found in the Trinitarian division of the world between Zeus, Hades and Poseidon.
But in Monotheism things became problematic because the nature of God changed but that was a God who was suppose to remain the same. Blake explained this structural transformation in his prequel to the bible in the 4 Zoas. Hegel explained the aftermath as philosophy evolved from the body rejecting philosophy of the Greek slave philosophers. As Nietzsche would say we have inherited slave morality from the Christians, and Slave philosophy from the enslaved Greeks, and have thus lost touch with Nobility.
But both the changes in the Greek Gods in their lineage and changes in the monotheistic God over time is merely a reflection of our own changeability in the mirror of pure heterogeneity and localism on the one hand and the global absolute on the other.
What is fascinating in the story of the changes of the Greek Gods is that the signs of the Emergent Events that occurred with these changes are preserved. In the case of the transition from Ahalu it is the Cup because it was Uranus as cupbearer that unseated him. In the case of the transition from Uranus it is Aphrodite that was born from the sea where the Phallus of Uranus fell into the Sea. In the case of Cronos it is the omphalous (comet that struck Delphi), which was the naval of the world spit up by Cronos when he regurgitated his children. In the case of the lack of transition from Zeus and his brothers it was Theytis and here dark cloak of Grief also worn only by Demeter who lost her daughter. Thetis lost her Son by Peleus who was Achilles and the Trojan War.
· Cup — Urthowna – Los
· Aphrodite – Tharmas – Death
· Omphallus – Luvah – Orc
· Thetis/Demeter Dark Mantle of Grief – Urizen – Satan (God of Deism)
We see Urthowna as the Daemon in the Timeous producing the world in the Chora or Receptacle. Thus the cup is the receptivity of spacetime to the creation of things by the demiurge.
We see that Aphrodite who is unbounded Desire and this jouissance (cf Lacan) leads only to Death as in the Trojan wars set off by her winning the Golden Apple.
We see that Apollo/Zeus kills the Python/Typhoon and that occurs at Delphi the same spot where Cronos regurgitates the stone that becomes the omphalos. There is at Delphi a crack in the earth over which the Pythoness sits to get the gist of the oracles. The Spirit of Rebellion is connected with time, Chronos and change, and those changes are local. To rebel is to institute a new distinction on the earth, which is what happens when Cronos spits up the stone, because it becomes the stone from which all the other boundary stones are measured. It is a new order set down on the earth, which is established by killing the dragon of existence, and establishing the omphalous, which is covered with a carved net with knots. Knots, of course, representing self-organization, organization of self against self by interference. For Blake Orc was both Satan and Christ together as one. Christ is the word and what arose from the ground by the medium of the priest us at Delphi was the words of the gods. Once the devil of the Dragon was slaughtered the words, which arose from the earth, could be heard. These oracles were the first divine logos.
We see that both Thetis and Demeter each grieve for their children and wear the black cape of grief. In general we in the metaphysical era are in grief and have nostalgia for the mythopoeic era and the loss of the Gods. Heidegger defines the metaphysical era as the time of the fleeing of the gods. We are all in grief over losing the mythic moment of time and being relegated to only three moments of time Past, Present and Future in the Metaphysical era. Fundamentally the problem with reign of reason, the so called enlightenment, is the loss of meaning, which the Romantics attempt to restore, but fail to restore, and thus the problem becomes the relation of meaning to representations, and semantics to syntax. The flight of the gods is also the flight of meaning leaving us with anomie, and alienation, i.e. nihilism as the fundamental product of our worldview. And we see all meaning in relation to Death. Heidegger’s Dasein becomes authentic only in the light of the recognition of its own death. Therefore, Love and Death go together both being extremes of life. In the case of Demeter’s Kore who is kidnaped by Hades there is a direct relation to and marriage to death. In fact, in Greek lore each wife is actually married to Hades via her relation to the hearth at the center of the family home. But also Kore becomes a fear inspiring goddess in her own right as the wife of Hades, but in some circles hades is understood to be Dionysus and their child is Pluto, the golden child. So out of death comes life, just as out of life comes death. And thus the Mysteries were born. On the other hand, Achilles who might have been a god if Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades had not married his mother to a mere mortal, must face death and is given the choice: A short life with glory or a long life without glory. It is Aphrodite who creates the war within which he is given this choice and is fated to die by the arrow of Paris guided by Apollo to his one weak spot on his heel. In both the cases of Demeter and Theitis it is the love of the mothers for their fallen children that causes the black cape of grief to be worn. But in each case that confrontation of the child with death is set up by Aphrodite who in the one case produces the conflict to which will take the life of Achilles, and in the other case drives Hades to seize the Kore and take her back to the underworld to be his queen. That kidnapping is seen as the basic structure for all Greek marriages, where they practiced marriage by kidnapping and that marriage and slavery of the wife to the hearth of the new patriarchal home is seen as the death of the young girl and her transformation into womanhood. Tharmas is the power of the parent, i.e. the Father to direct the lives of the youths. In the case of Kore/Persephone this is by kidnapping. In the case of Achilles it is by the agreement of Zeus/Poseidon/Hades not to have intercourse with Thetis so that he as the son of a mortal could not challenge the gods and thus maintain the status quo of their balance of power.
What we see here is that there seems to be some peripheral and indirect relation between the transformations in the monotheistic transformation of the personalities of god within the tradition, and the emergent events related to the changes in the generations of the gods in polytheism. It makes sense that Polytheism and Monotheism could be structurally related. One posits heterogeneity and discontinuity but then is generalized into continuities. The other posits continuity, unity and totality but what we see in practice is that the personality of god transforms due to historic changes over time. Now if it turns out that the attempt by Blake to understand these changes as the Ur-narrative prior to the Bible, similar to the Titanomachia which was lost, is the ur-conflict prior to the Trojan war, can be related to the preserved signs of the emergent events in the generational changes then that would be quite interesting. It would mean that structural constraints bind Polytheism’s relation to time with the temporalization of the monotheistic ideas of the personality of God.
Again this says more about us than it does about the absolute. But it also heightens our sensitivity to the position of the Spirit, and the Spectres in our relation to the Absolute and its avatarization. Once you allow for the possibility of God having a personality, then you are bringing god into relation with time and this becomes a schematization of God, and this schematization like that of the categories turns out in Blake’s view to be fourfold.
The idea that God can have Whoness is one step closer to Anthropomophism. The absolute has no characterizations as the Godhead. This is called the Dhat in Islamic sufic theology. Then the absolute takes on characteristics, and this is called the Sifat, or attributes of God. The next step is to allow that God as Whoness, and in Quran we see God speaking of Himself using He, and We, and I, and thus there is this positing of personality within Islam of God, but this is understood as various means of accommodation of God to our understanding. However, in Islam there is no idea that the personality of God can change, that is impossible due to his attributes that set him outside of timespace altogether. Thus from the Islamic point of view the structural changes in the personality of God must say more about the internal nature of Man than the personality of God. Thus the schematization of the whoness of God must be a recognition of the underlying nature of man himself in his reconceptualization of God over time. And what we see is that this schematization is controlled as we said by the structure of the divided line, which is used to distinguish and to hold together science and religion.
The generations of the gods end in the passing of the gods and the rise of man as the arbiter of his own existence. The gods of Polytheism have already passed with the advent of the metaphysical age. We have incredible nostalga for the mythopoietic time when we were fully engaged with the gods in our lives which gave meaning to our every action because it was either looked upon favorably or unfavorably by myriad different gods. But there arose the last god, which was the first god Ahalu, who was the monotheistic god who is still passing out of our worldview. And that god has moments of personality transformation where its whoness becomes essentially different. In the seventeenth century this differentiation of the personalities of god came to a head, and Blake answered it by generating the ur-myth prior to the bible to explain this transformation as a poetic vision. It is the vision of Los – i.e. the vision of the loss of the unity of the monotheistic god. However, within the totality of our semito-indoeuropean worldview on the background of Egyptian and Mesopotamian heritage if we can see that the emergent events that remain within the mythic genealogy of the polytheistic gods and if they have some relation to the transformations between the personalities of God through history then we see that at a structural level Monotheism is just a transformation of Polytheism, and not something completely different which we might expect. Monotheism has varying personalities of one god, while Polytheism has various personalities of different gods. What changes in polytheism are the generations of the gods that are attuned to the ebb and flow of power in various cultures and civilizations. But because the Greeks had the idea that there was parity between the gods and humans, that the gods should be represented in human form, rather than with animal characteristics, i.e. that the gods should be perfectly human, that suddenly we can lose track of the difference between man and god, as Blake does when Albion the man falls to sleep and dreams of the Zoas. This representation of the gods as human became the dominant form of polytheism by the conquering of the known world by Alexander and by the Romans adopting Greek culture as superior to their own, but identifying with Troy to differentiate themselves from the Romans, and to justify their wars as revenge for the Trojan war in the via the Aeneid of Virgil. In the transformation from Polytheism to the more rational monotheism the specific formation of monotheism in the Hebrew bible and then the New testament came to replace the rituals of Polytheism. But even monotheism was more reasonable, Christianity embraced paradox and the body against the alienation from the body of philosophy that was dominant. And so the tension within the divided line between science and religion was set up. But what we see when we look at the whole of the divided line as the fundamental structure of the Western worldview is that Science and Religion are merely two sides of the same coin. Christianity embraces on the one hand paradox and ungrounded belief. And Science embraces representational rationality and empirical or grounded belief. But Science projects god as a rational absolute and thus sees along with the Christians God as Good, and thus God is also projected as being a non-representable intelligible in its monotheistic unity which reason takes to be the Absolute. For Spinoza the most personality that God could have is that of Nature.
What is not taken into account in all this is the collapse of the ridgepole of the divided line, and the advent of non-duality as the inner nature of the noumenal. What is not taken into account is the nature of the dividing lines that cross the ridgepole and the nature of emptiness and void and manifestation as segmenting the divided line.
But be that as it may, in terms of personality of God the whoness is in question, and the attempt historically in dealing with the schematization of that whoness led to the conception of Blake in the Four Zoas, which may be structurally related to the emergent events in the generation of the polytheistic gods. And thus it could be that the transition between polytheism and monotheism in our tradition is merely a structural inversion. And that tells us more about the nature of our worldview than it does about the absolute and its transformations of personality. Ovid’s metamorphosis is all about the transformations of people and gods within the polytheistic mythopoietic mindset. That this kind of structural transformation occurs in monotheism with a single god who is not supposed to change, but historically was projected in different guises, and if that is related to the transformations of the emergent events in the genealogy of the gods, then that takes us into a deeper understanding of our worldview and ourselves, and makes it so the question of the whoness of God merely takes us into the bigger mystery of the whoness of ourselves. Who are we to project God as having a changing personality? I wonder what God thinks of that. God, as absolute pure spirit making metacommentary in the Quran on our traditions asks of man, where then are you going?
But where to start. Well as always we need to establish a context for this question and comprehend its problematic, and then set out on the journey, not knowing where it will take us, but willing to confront both our own limitations and the overwhelming of what lies beyond our kenning along the way.