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Saturday, June 20
by Debashish on June 20, 2009 09:51PM (PDT)
Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, the foremost virtuoso of the lutelike sarod, whose dazzling technique and gift for melodic invention, often on display in concert with his brother-in-law Ravi Shankar, helped popularize North Indian classical music in the West, died on Thursday at his home in San Anselmo, Calif. He was 87. In this obituary from the New York Times, William Grimes provides an outline of this most extraordinary musician. more »
Saturday, April 25
by koantum on April 25, 2009 09:44PM (PDT)
By Carolyn Baker
Something more fundamental — yes, cellular — occurs in my anatomy when I hear that the last two years of economic agony was merely a blip on the radar screen of the capitalist business cycle — yet another momentary whack from Adam Smith's "invisible hand".
I cringe when I hear the words "back to normal" because of what that means to me. "Normal" means hordes of Walmart shoppers stuffing cars and SUV's full of plastics from China and driving off to their suburban homes to devour or display them until the current fix wears off and their shallow, meaningless lifestyles demand yet another "mall injection". Normal means homeowners wearing several tons of house on their backs as they travel by car to jobs they despise to maintain mortgage, taxes, insurance, and upkeep. Normal means total oblivion to the polar bear whose heart exploded during the last half-mile of his frantic swim in search of any tiny chunk of ice on which he could rest in order to regain his strength and continue his quest for food. Normal means infinite patches of sickened brown trees devastated by the mountain pine beetle in an otherwise green Colorado forest. Normal means NASCAR and another nuclear power plant coming online and oceanic dead zones the size of countries. Did you hear? We're going back to normal — to parents working 80 hours a week while their kids become junkies, bulimic, or pregnant. Normal means slamming down more McDonalds Happy Meals chased with Red Bull and Prozac. Normal means that I have nothing to do with nature, and it has nothing to do with me, and furthermore, if I have anything to do with it, I'll do with it whatever the hell I like. Normal means that my reason for being is to consume, stuff my face, watch reality TV, obsess over celebrity gossip, chatter around the water cooler about pirates and tea parties, and grab a couple of hours of Ambien-induced sleep at the end of the day if I'm lucky. more »
Thursday, April 23
by koantum on April 23, 2009 05:30PM (PDT)
The YouTube clip of Susan's angel voice soaring from the unkissed mouth of that scrunchy-faced, eyebrow-enforested, unprepossessingly dumpy representative of anonymous humanity was the third irresistible message to us all to get over ourselves. more »
Sunday, January 25
by Debashish on January 25, 2009 04:02PM (PST)
In response to the exaggerated outrage of the anti-Lives proponents, Larry Seidlitz had penned his mild-mannered detailed review of the work, which was carried earlier in sciy (An Examination of the Criticism Against The Lives of Sri Aurobindo). Here we field another review which while eschewing the colorful hyperboles of "Mahakali's wrath"-mongers, attempts a nuanced reading sympathetic to the sentiments some of the aggrieved. more »
Saturday, January 10
by Debashish on January 10, 2009 10:05AM (PST)
Controversy surrounding the representation of a "nationalized" Indian mystic comes late to Sri Aurobindo. Pre-dating the latter in personal chronology as in nationalism and the modern articulation of a global Vedantic spirituality, Vivekananda precedes also in the matter of contemporary debates on representation. In the present 2005 piece by Makarand Paranjape, some of the recent histories of representation and the all too familiar stakes are rehearsed and can be instructive to our consideration of the present controversy raging around "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo." Who gets to authorize the representation? What are the relative uses of hagiographny and biography? Are not both of these varieties of fiction? What purposes do they serve? Where does cultural tradition come in? What is the place of hermeneutics in all this? Paranjape's reflections and call for a balanced realism is much needed for us to heed and reflect on in these times of myth-making and madness. more »
Saturday, December 27
by koantum on December 27, 2008 02:54PM (PST)
The keyword of the earth’s riddle is the gradual evolution of a hidden illimitable consciousness and power out of the seemingly inert yet furiously driven force of insensible Nature. Earth-life is one self-chosen habitation of a great Divinity and his aeonic will is to change it from a blind prison into his splendid mansion and high heaven-reaching temple. (Sri Aurobindo, Essays Divine and Human, p. 161)
The scientific theory is concerned only with the outward and visible machinery and process, with the detail of Nature’s execution, with the physical development of things in Matter and the law of development of Life and Mind in Matter; its account of the process may have to be considerably changed or may be dropped altogether in the light of new discovery, but that will not affect the self-evident fact of a spiritual evolution, an evolution of Consciousness, a progression of the soul’s manifestation in material existence. (Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, p. 868)
There can be hardly any doubt that the scientific account of evolution has to be considerably changed or dropped altogether. Dr. Berlinski (not a Christian, by the way) explains why.
Wednesday, December 17
by Rich on December 17, 2008 09:49AM (PST)
"Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman--a rope over an abyss...
What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end"... Nietzsche
I just watched this excellent documentary and my conclusion was that the best description of wire walker Philippe Petit was that of an aspiring "overman". more »
Friday, December 12
by koantum on December 12, 2008 01:01PM (PST)
Kazimierz Dabrowski, a Polish psychiatrist and psychologist, developed the Theory of Positive Disintegration (TPD) over his lifetime of clinical and academic work:
"Intense psychoneurotic processes are especially characteristic of accelerated development in its course towards the formation of personality....
The person finds a 'cure' for himself, not in the sense of a rehabilitation but rather in the sense of reaching a higher level than the one at which he was prior to disintegration...."
"Through the constant creation of himself, through the development of the inner psychic milieu and development of discriminating power with respect to both the inner and outer milieus - an individual goes through ever higher levels of 'neuroses' and at the same time through ever higher levels of universal development of his personality...." more »
Friday, December 5
Sri Aurobindo's commentary on the Upanishads in the life of Rashaan Roland Kirk: Aug 7, 1936 - Dec 5, 1977
by Rich on December 5, 2008 01:31PM (PST)
I wanted to provide a video of Kirk's performance to compliment this article and demonstrate some of the techniques and music described in it
Roland Kirk died 31 years ago on Dec 5th 1977, I believe his life illustrates what in the Isha and Kena Upanishad is referred to as the workings of Prana and Kratu . Following Sri Aurobindo's excellent commentary on these two Upanishads in this article - that has been recently updated - I trace the self-formulation of prana and kratu in the biography of this amazing musician
Prana, Kratu, Jazz
(the life and will of Rashaan Roland Kirk)
By whom yoked moves the first life-breath forward on its path? By whom impelled is this word that men speak? What god set eye and ear to their workings?....
- Kena Upanishad more »
Saturday, November 1
by Debashish on November 1, 2008 11:22PM (PDT)
"A man well versed in all disciplines, curious about each and every mystery, father of alphabets, languages, utopias and mythologies, host of paradises and infernos, author, pan-chess player, and perfect astrologer in indulgent irony and generous friendship, Xul Solar is one of the most peculiar events of our times" - Jorge Luis Borges
If the essence of critique, as per Foucault, is the desubjugation of the self in the politics of truth, and if utopias, as per Jameson, represent the limit condition of social critique, Argentinian Xul Solar (1887-1963) is one kind of subject exemplar of the wholesale reconfiguration of modernity. Standing at the initiation of an age of world history which harvests humanity for a totalitarian global market, offers alienation and conditioning in the name of freedom, policed uniformity in the name of creativity and multiculturalism, dromologic deformation in the name of progress, animal lust and aggression cloaked as civilization, Xul Solar, like his friend Jorge Luis Borges, made of his life and its expressions a performance at the margins which opened the cracks to alternate worlds of creative communitarian self-fashioning, poised between internal coherence and external noise, negotiating their realities and truths in real-time. An epic personality, Solar leaves his legacy of the message that it is not through the politics of the democratic vote but through what may seem an eccentric creative aspiration towards global and teleological alternate integralities, resistances to assimilation and an assimilation of resistances, that we may gather the invisible threads and weave the text of a world which makes possible the gnostic community.more »
Thursday, October 9
by Ron on October 9, 2008 08:57PM (PDT)
I've taken the liberty of typing in all of Chapter 4 of my copy of this important book, because it powerfully addresses one of the main themes of SCIY, the manifold relationships between science, culture, and consciousness. (ron)
"It is a paradox of the work of Artificial Intelligence that in order to grant consciousness to machines, the engineers first labor to subtract it from humans, as they work to foist upon philosophers a caricature of consciousness in the digital switches of weights and gates in neural nets. As the caricature goes into public circulation with the help of the media, it becomes an acceptable counterfeit currency, and the humanistic philosopher of mind soon finds himself replaced by the robotics scientist. ...
"Both the mechanists and the mystics say that we are now at a great bifurcation in human evolution. The mechanists like Ray Kurzweil, Danny Hillis, and Hans Moravec prophesy that we are at the end of the human era, and that 'nanobots' are about to be embedded in our bodies until our antique organs of flesh are entirely surrounded by a new silicon noosphere of networked computers. Like ancient mitochondria or chloroplasts surrounded by the gigantic eukaryotic cells, we are about to be engulfed in the next evolutionary stage. So the mechanists see noetic technologies surrounding human culture and consciousness and compressing it into an endosymbiont in a larger and swifter and more elegant evolutionary vehicle. ...
"Mystics flip this literalism over to see technology as a system of externalized metaphors that derive from pre-existing ontological modes at play and at large in the universe... For the mystic — be she Cabbalist or Sufi — an angel is a 'Celestial Intelligence' — a form of cosmic noetic organization that does not require a detour through animal evolution. So when Kurzweil claims that by 2030 implanted nanobots in the bloodstream will enable humans to turn off to the outside world to attune to a virtual reality, the mystic would recognize a literalist rendering of the process of meditation. Kurzweil's vision of the world in 2030 reminds me of Borges's 'Library of Babel'. 'I suspect that the human species — the unique species — is about to be extinguished, but the Library will endure: illuminated, solitary, useless, incorruptible, secret'.  And here we need to be sensitive to the full force of Borges's use of the word 'Babel'. ... " more »
Thursday, May 1
by Ron on May 1, 2008 02:00AM (PDT)
Albert Hofmann was a synthetic chemist with Sandoz Laboratories, now Novartis, in Switzerland when in 1943 he stumbled on the hallucinatory effects of LSD. After it became seen by Harvard's Timothy Leary and others in the '60s as a pathway to spiritual enlightenment, and then as a major recreational drug, ... more »
Friday, April 25
by Debashish on April 25, 2008 11:32AM (PDT)
Following the publication of “Understanding Thoughts of Sri Aurobindo,” Indrani Sanyal and Krishna Roy of the Centre for Sri Aurobindo Studies, Calcutta have complied a set of eighteen scholarly essays on Sri Aurobindo and his contemporaries in the ideational context of what has been called the Bengal Renaissance. Sri Aurobindo’s physical involvement in the politics and culture of early Bengal nationalism was of relatively short duration (1905-1910), albeit an intense and all-sided participation which internalized the entire regional history of the movement and left a powerful creative impress in the milieu of its time and space. Moreover, the discursive background of this involvement continued to develop organically and find voice throughout his life in his subjective articulation just as his own situated contribution continued to resonate in later Indian nationalism. Thus this collection of considered interpretive contemplation fills an important need in our historical understanding. But more importantly, it is the post-colonial legacy of these engagements which draws us today by their fertile and future-gazing content, inviting reflection not merely for India’s but the world’s re-generation at a time of global ferment. more »
Sunday, January 13
by Ron on January 13, 2008 10:43AM (PST)
...Daniel Pinchbeck, author of the alternative-culture best seller “2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl” — and a guest on “Coast to Coast AM” — has introduced a young and savvy audience to the school of millenarian thinking that has gathered around Mayan calendrics. To do so, he has employed viral marketing and a tireless schedule of public appearances at bookstores, art spaces, yoga studios and electronic-music festivals...
Over breakfast at Cafe Gitane in Manhattan, Pinchbeck told me recently that “there’s a growing realization that materialism and the rational, empirical worldview that comes with it has reached its expiration date.”... “Apocalypse literally means uncovering or revealing,” Pinchbeck went on, “and I think the process is already under way. We’re on the verge of transitioning to a dispensation of consciousness that’s more intuitive, mystical and shamanic.”
Far from its origins, divorced from its context and enlisted in a prophetic project that it may never have been designed to fulfill, the Mayan calendar is at the center of an escalating cultural phenomenon — with New Age roots — that unites numinous dreams of societal transformation with the darker tropes of biblical cataclysm. To some, 2012 will bring the end of time; to others, it carries the promise of a new beginning; to still others, 2012 provides an explanation for troubling new realities — environmental change, for example — that seem beyond the control of our technology and impervious to reason. Just in time for the final five-year countdown, the Mayan apocalypse has come of age. ... more »
Tuesday, December 25
by Kim on December 25, 2007 08:59PM (PST)
Al-Kemi recounts the story of the eighteen months that Andrew VandenBroeck, a painter and writer, spent in daily contact with the remarkable French philosopher, hermetist, and Egyptologist, R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz (1887-1961). Structured like a mystery, and distilled in the crucible of memory for fifteen years, Al-Kemi provides a passionately felt, personal, and dramatic introduction to the startling world of this contemporary alchemist (from back cover).
... Before reaching these particulars, it must be known that de Lubicz held the traditional conception of an esoteric science and its transmission: true knowledge is inaccessible to the rational mind. This epistemological tenet caused his writings to be spiked with metaphor, innuendo, and at times, obscurity. He mistrusted the written word, disliked writing because truth was inevitably degraded when committed to paper through a profane language. This attitude most clearly ordinates the lineage along which he inscribes himself by his premises and his results. His low regard for “demotic” writing as a means of truth-communication made personal contact with him invaluable, for he had no such reservations concerning the spoken word, the word of gesture. Thus he actively believed in oral transmission of a kind of knowledge best called “gnosis,”  and in private, I always found him accessible to leisurely conversation on the most exalted topics. As our relationship soon proved more than casual, his information became increasingly direct, in contrast to his written expression which often presents problems of meaning and referent.more »
To such an epistemology, personal contact is the kingpin of communication, and I found out later to what extent his frame of reference was tailored to his correspondent. ...
A Review of Dipesh Chakrabarty's "Provincializing Europe" by Amit Chaudhuri (London Review of Books) Debashish
AntiMatters vol 3 no 4 is out koantum
Classicism, post-classicism and Ranjabati Sircar’s work: re-defining the terms of Indian contemporary dance discourses by Alessandra Lopez y Royo Debashish
LACMA 111909 - Debashish Banerji Debashish
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care - Bernard Stiegler
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care - Bernard Stiegler