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Saturday, December 5
by Rich on December 5, 2009 08:56AM (PST)
As reported by the Hindu, Justice A. S. Naidu of the Orissa High Court has stayed proceedings in a criminal case against Peter Heehs in the court of the subdivisional magistrate, Cuttack. This means, for those unfamiliar with legal terminology, that the case has been taken from the hands of the magistrate, and that all proceedings in the case have been halted until the matter is disposed of by the High Court. In addition the High Court has quashed (nullified) an order that had been passed by the subdivisional magistrate. The fact that the case in the lower court was stayed even before the magistrate was given a chance to hear it shows that the High Court found it to be fundamentally unsound in law
Monday, September 21
by Rich on September 21, 2009 01:13PM (PDT)
Although they are very different texts that perhaps address different ranges of consciousness there are certainly some similarities in this story of Jung's Red Book - in which he worked out his inner experiences during his quest for individuation (and at times just for sanity) - and Sri Aurobindo's Record of Yoga, in that the public -and even many followers- were largely unaware of these personal records of inner experiences that seem to have emerged quite unexpectedly long after they were written.
The book tells the story of Jung trying to face down his own demons as they emerged from the shadows. The results are humiliating, sometimes unsavory. In it, Jung travels the land of the dead, falls in love with a woman he later realizes is his sister, gets squeezed by a giant serpent and, in one terrifying moment, eats the liver of a little child. (“I swallow with desperate efforts — it is impossible — once again and once again — I almost faint — it is done.”) At one point, even the devil criticizes Jung as hateful.
He worked on his red book — and he called it just that, the Red Book — on and off for about 16 years, long after his personal crisis had passed, but he never managed to finish it. He actively fretted over it, wondering whether to have it published and face ridicule from his scientifically oriented peers or to put it in a drawer and forget it. Regarding the significance of what the book contained, however, Jung was unequivocal. “All my works, all my creative activity,” he would recall later, “has come from those initial fantasies and dreams.” more »
Friday, July 17
by Debashish on July 17, 2009 10:35AM (PDT)
As globalization strips the veil from the last inviolable topos of earth and real-time surveiilance renders every square unit of the planet physically transaparent in its utilitarian Google Maps and Star War strategies, the sacred plexuses of the earth also multiply in their resistant cultural geographies of surreal uptopia.
Peter Bishop teaches Communication and Cultural Studies at the University of Southern Australia. Bishop's entertaining and erudite analyses of contemporary material culture pry open the spaces where spirituality, imagination, cultural history and material practices intersect. In this first chapter from his book, The Myth of Shangri-La: Tibet, Travel Writing and the Western Creation of Sacred landscape, he presents the makings of a theory of sacred cultural materiality - the spiritual, psychological, aesthetic, cultural, historical, political, economic and geographic transactions which establish the utopian spaces of contemporary spiritual desire. - DB more »
Wednesday, July 1
by Debashish on July 1, 2009 09:08PM (PDT)
Eric Hutchinson is a contributor to the University of Vermont's History Forum. In this literary analysis grounded in social history, he shows how Rushdie's hybrid text on creativity, mysticism, psychosis, orthodoxy and negotiation contains layers of self-fulfilling prophecy and opens up the aporetic division between subjective freedom and traditionally defended authoritarianism, a disturbing which runs like a subtext through our times. more »
Twenty years on: how the fatwa on Salman Rushdie has gagged our society By Anthony Drew (The Observer)
by Debashish on July 1, 2009 07:27PM (PDT)
The contemporary history of cutural coercion, of which the response by religious zealots to Peter Heehs' The Lives of Sri Aurobindo may be seen as an instance, draws its legacy from Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa on Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses:
It's 20 years since Iran's religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini pronounced a death sentence on Salman Rushdie for 'insulting' Islam with his novel The Satanic Verses. The repercussions were profound - and are still being felt. Andrew Anthony traces the course of the affair, from book-burnings and firebombings to the dramatic impact it had on freedom of expression in a multicultural society:
Who would dare to write a book like The Satanic Verses nowadays? And if some brave or reckless author did dare, who would publish it? The signs in both cases are that no such writer or publisher is likely to appear, and for two reasons. The first and most obvious is fear. The Satanic Verses is a rich and complex literary novel, by turns ironic, fantastical and satirical. Despite what is often said, mostly by those who haven't read it, the book does not take direct aim at Islam or its prophet. Those sections that have caused the greatest controversy are contained within the dreams or nightmares of a character who is in the grip of psychosis. Which is to say that, even buried in the fevered subconscious of a disturbed character inside a work of fiction - a work of magical realism fiction! - there is no escape from literalist tyranny. Any sentence might turn out to be a death sentence. And few if any of even the boldest and most iconoclastic artists wish to run that risk.
The recent case of The Jewel of Medina, a work by Sherry Jones which is neither bold nor iconoclastic, exemplifies the problem. In 2007 the American publishers Random House bought the rights to this historical novel about the prophet Muhammad's wife Aisha. By all accounts the book is something of a cheesy romance. Jones herself believes it is a circumspect fiction which "portrays the prophet Muhammad as a gentle, compassionate, wise leader and man respectful toward women and his wives". But a professor of Middle Eastern studies named Denise Spellberg advised Random House that it might provoke violence. The publishers duly cancelled the publication.
"We stand firmly by our responsibility to support our authors and the free discussion of ideas, even those that may be construed as offensive by some," Random House explained in a statement. "However, a publisher must weigh that responsibility against others that it also bears, and in this instance we decided, after much deliberation, to postpone publication for the safety of the author, employees of Random House, booksellers and anyone who would be involved in distribution and sale of the novel."
This has become a familiar conceit in recent years: we defend the right of freedom of expression but prefer not to exercise it in situations that might endanger us. Random House publish Rushdie, and he was angered by what he saw as a capitulation to the threat of Islamic reprisals. "This is censorship by fear, and it sets a very bad precedent indeed," he said.
In Britain the book was taken up by the independent publisher, Gibson Square. But on 27 September last year the London home of Martin Rynja, Gibson Square's publisher, was firebombed. As things stand, the book's British publication is indefinitely postponed.
Nor is this self-censorship restricted to literature. Ramin Gray, associate director of the Royal Court Theatre, recently admitted that he would be reluctant to stage a play that was critical of Islam. "You would think twice," he said. "You'd have to take the play on its merits but given the time we're in, it's very hard because you'd worry that if you cause offence then the whole enterprise would become buried in a sea of controversy. It does make you tread carefully."
The expressed intention of [Khomeini's] fatwa was to defend and strengthen the clergy, and one of its effects in Britain has been to create a kind of pseudo-clergy, a class of Islamist intellectuals and militants who presume to speak not just for their co-religionists in Britain but 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide. At the same time, in the late 80s and early 90s, another clergy of fundamentalist preachers, often refugees from despotic Middle Eastern regimes, began to attract a disaffected constituency that had been radicalised by The Satanic Verses protests. As Hirsi Ali put it to me: "The paradox in the UK with regard to freedom of expression is that most of the radical literature and most of the radical mosques moved from Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia and established themselves in the liberal West, where there is freedom of religion and expression, with the bizarre purpose of destroying those freedoms."
In the 20 years since the fatwa, the parameters of cultural debate in Britain and elsewhere have undoubtedly narrowed. If the Islam of Khomeini and other fundamentalists has played a key role in redefining what is and is not acceptable, then it is not the only factor. Other religions have also got in on the censorship act. In 2004 the play Behzti (Dishonour) was cancelled at the Birmingham Rep after a riot by Sikh protesters on the opening night. Christian groups too have taken to organising more intimidating protests - though with less success - against shows and productions they deem offensive.
Taken together they are all part of a multicultural accommodation that has come to determine the terms of public discourse. In hindsight, The Satanic Verses was published at a turning point in progressive politics. Throughout much of the 20th century a battle had been waged against discriminating on the basis of race (The Satanic Verses itself was avowedly anti-racist) and class. In other words, those aspects of humanity that are biologically inherited or socially imposed. For a variety of reasons, including the fall of the Berlin Wall later on in 1989 and the emergence of minority group activism, a new identity politics emerged. Class and race were replaced or trumped by culture.
The emphasis moved to combating cultural discrimination. All cultures were deemed equal, and therefore all components of culture - religion, tradition, beliefs - had to be protected from critical appraisal. Obviously culture is socially inherited, but in a free society it is also a matter of freedom of choice. The liberty to change your beliefs, reject your traditions and question your religion is what distinguishes individuals from members of an enforced collective. Such liberty necessitates the discussion and expression of ideas that may be unpalatable to others. Increasingly, therefore, this has become a process that is actively discouraged. more »
Saturday, May 16
Wednesday, April 15
Lewontin's Living Legacy: Thinking About Evolution: Historical, Philosophical and Political Perspectives (Val Dusek)
by Rich on April 15, 2009 08:19AM (PDT)
Reference: 100 years of Sri Aurobindo on evolution.
This is the second volume of a festschrift for Lewontin, the leading evolutionary geneticist, Marxist, and critic of genetic explanations of human behavioral characteristics. This volume contains twenty-eight articles, including the work of some ten leading philosophers of biology, several of whom worked in Lewontin’s laboratory while on leave or exchange (Sober, Lloyd), took courses with (Brandon), was a colleague of (Wimsatt), co-authored with (Sober, Godfrey Smith) or were influenced heavily by Lewontin. There also are works of a general nature by several of Lewontin’s Marxist or radical biologist colleagues or comrades, including edited and abridged chapters from books by Steve Gould and Steve Rose, an article on identity politics by Ruth Hubbard, and a critique of chaos theory by Richard Levins. I shall concentrate on those articles that I think most clearly develop two theoretical themes originally adumbrated by Lewontin, the critique of genic selectionism and the defense of the claim that organisms construct their environments. For brief, clear abstracts of all twenty-eight articles see the review by Michael Bradie (2002) in this journal. An adequate essay-review of the score of topics covered in various articles would be at least as long as the book itself. 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 »
Thursday, December 4
by koantum on December 4, 2008 11:29PM (PST)
announces the release of its sixth issue (Vol 2, No 4, 2008)
Table of Contents
AntiMatters is an open-access e-journal addressing issues in science and the humanities from non-materialistic perspectives. It is published quarterly by the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry.
Monday, October 20
by Rich on October 20, 2008 07:20PM (PDT)
Due to the controversy over The Lives of Sri Aurobindo with many in the Aurobindo Ashram either screaming loudly or conspiring secretly to ban the book, I thought it was a good idea to put some context to the issue by exploring the history of book censorship. So I am reprinting here a list of some of the more notable banned or challenged books from the 20th Century. Its a history which unfortunately we seemed doomed to repeat in the 21st. more »
Monday, March 26
by Ron on March 26, 2007 11:12AM (PDT)
This informative list of annotated links compiled by Resurgence Magazine includes interesting initiatives in the areas of Activism, Agricultural Development, Ecology, Economics, Education & Community, the Internet, Political & Corporate, Publishing, and Scientific Principles. The few I’ve had a chance to check out so far look like they’re indeed doing important work; e.g., ISEC (the International society for Ecology & Culture), which I’ll post more info about in my next article. — Recommended. more »
Thursday, February 15
'The Doctrine of the Subtle Worlds: Sri Aurobindo's Cosmology, Modern Science, and the Metaphysics of Alfred North Whitehead'
by Ron on February 15, 2007 11:11PM (PST)
This is an unusually long article for SCIY. It's copyrighted by Eric M. Weiss, and was his dissertation for his Ph.D. at CIIS, the California Institute of Integral Studies, with a concentration in Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness. I'm taking the liberty of posting it here because, in my opinion, it's one of the most thorough and insightful treatments of the core concern of SCIY; the multiple & interpenetrating relationships between science, culture, and consciousness, placed within the contextual framework of Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga. - Warning: This is challenging material, but I believe working through it and contemplating its implications is well worth the effort. - My deepest appreciation goes to Dr. Eric Weiss for his extraordinary and groundbreaking work. ~ ron
...Here we are, at the dawn of the Twenty First Century, and I have awakened to find myself living in a science fiction novel. If this novel were to be written from the standpoint of the 23rd century, looking back to the beginning of the 21st, it might start something like this:
At that time, the certainties of science had faltered. The great charism of the men in white lab coats had faded. The bastions of materialism had crumbled from within, and the civilization that it had fostered was losing its way.
Meanwhile, three centuries of rapacious assault on the biosphere were, at last, showing decisive results. The globe was poisoned, people were sick, species were being slaughtered by the tens of thousands, global temperatures and global sea levels were both beginning to rise. A civilization was ending, and in its death throes, it was bringing to a close the Cenozoic Era. The Earth was preparing for a fresh creation.
Looking back, too, we can see that the promise of the new civilization had already begun to shine. The iron cage of the material world, in which the species had been trapped for centuries, was starting to dissolve. Here and there, the experiences of the subtle worlds were breaking through. A few intrepid explorers had seen the promise, and had just begun to glimpse the vast freedoms and the limitless horizons that we now enjoy, but the darkness was still thick and Kali was dancing wildly across the face of the globe. This is the story of those early pioneers… more »
Friday, December 15
by Ron on December 15, 2006 06:12PM (PST)
Debashish asked me to post this review by Prema Nandakumar of J.K. Mukherjee's book: "The Ascent of Sight in Sri Aurobindo's Savitri."
Re-reading Savitri is ever a new experience. One may keep reading the epic for half a century like Jugalda, and each reading brings a fresh insight into the inexhaustible springs of the narrative. The process of ascent from an ordinary seeing to the spiritual vision in the higher ranges of thought and beyond as stated in Savitri is a fascinating phenomenon. Especially so, when Jugalda is our Paraclete. As always, Jugalda does not tease us with an impossible mystic diction. He is the ideal acharya who swoops down like the eagle in the classroom and then rises slowly and majestically past the green crests of life holding the hands of the reader-student. ... more »
Wednesday, October 4
by Ron on October 4, 2006 07:22PM (PDT)
In November 2005, Fritz Stern received an award for his life’s work on Germans, Jews and the roots of National Socialism, presented to him by Joschka Fischer, then the German foreign minister. With a frankness that startled some in the audience, Stern, an emeritus professor of European history at Columbia University, peppered his acceptance speech with the similarities he saw between the path taken by Germany in the years leading up to Hitler and the path being taken by the United States today. He talked about a group of 1920’s intellectuals known as the “conservative revolutionaries,” who “denounced liberalism as the greatest, most invidious threat, and attacked it for its tolerance, rationality and cosmopolitan culture,” and about how Hitler had used religion to appeal to the German public. In Hitler’s first radio address after becoming chancellor, Stern noted, he declared that the Nazis regarded “Christianity as the foundation of our national morality and the family as the basis of national life.” ... more »
by Ron on October 4, 2006 05:53PM (PDT)
This is a fascinating, though quite speculative, website:
The Bible tells us that God created Adam and Eve just a few thousand years ago, by some fundamentalist interpretations. Science informs us that this is mere fiction and that man is a few million years old, and that civilization is just tens of thousands of years old. Could it be, however, that conventional science is just as mistaken as the Bible stories? There is a great deal of archeological evidence that the history of life on earth might be far different than what current geological and anthropological texts tell us. Consider these astonishing finds: ... more »
Wednesday, September 27
by Ron on September 27, 2006 09:09AM (PDT)
...A cultural revolution is a revolution in thinking. Profound change in the world only happens when thinking changes, and in What Is Enlightenment? magazine, we’re endeavoring to communicate with our growing body of readers in ways that are going to compel all of us to think more deeply. We seek out those individuals who challenge us to stretch beyond familiar mindsets in order to meet the overwhelming demands of our time. And as we learn from this ever-expanding network of leading thinkers, we simultaneously try to create an enlightened context in which their voices and visions will be amplified. It is my firm conviction that through the practice of sincere inquiry, of honest dialogue together, we can discover new perspectives that will enable all of us to make much greater sense of our shared human experience."
- Andrew Cohen, WIE Founder & Editor more »
Saturday, June 17
by Ron on June 17, 2006 01:24AM (PDT)
Here's one example of the many, many people and organizations inspired by the work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and deeply involved in "the wake up call for humanity." Barbara is an old friend and former colleague who is an amazing example of someone who has been deeply vitalized by personal experiences of the sacred. (She's well over 70 years old and keeps on going in spite of a serious bout with cancer that would have hospitalized or killed most of us.)
"It is clear that we have reached “Critical Mess.” Our problems cannot be resolved by doing more of the same. The dysynergy among these problems is rapidly leading to devolution. Yet, out of the crisis, even in the last few months since the awareness of global warming, there has been an increase in mass awakening. This crisis is vital for the next stage of our evolution. It is the wake up call for humanity. ..." more »
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