Four invitations and a conversation
Great Scott Dougald! Just finished listening to the Rune Soup conversation, it was spot on. Damit kann mann nichts machen, seems changed into now is the time. For me reading Jung’s Red Book made me realise how Christianity is in my fabric as well as in our whole society. He wanted to leave it behind but found that wasn’t possible. We must deal with that heritage.
Loved also the insight of not having the time to listen to each single individual sitting in the big circle. In stead we need collective ritual, ways to adres this that bypass the intellectual, the analytical, the endless talks. My journey of the last five years has been about gatherings and their primal function. I had a story idea for a novel about festivals. The research lead me deeper and deeper into the history and the function of celebrations and now I am publishing the results as a serial here on Substack. I believe it to be very timely.
I think the term shaman/philosopher could apply to my role. I am a non-academic and not an intellectual. I am what McGilchrist would call right hemisphere dominant. So, I do not have arguments for what I can clearly see. I only have story to convey the clarity.
Here is why I tell you this. The story is written except for the ending. I would love for you to play a role in that ending. A role in shaping it. In helping me to reach just that little further. How? By taking a bit of time to listen and reflect on my vision for this tale. I am asking several others to do the same during the coming year and my dream is that it will work as a ‘live’ event, as a gathering in its own right, and as a ritual of creation.
It can be in the form of a one on one Zoom conversation. No preparations needed.
While my newly painted forest floor right shoe dries I just read your piece. So many good things, and congrats on your successful year here. BTW, Theresa was actually on Alone Season 8, rather than Grizzly Mountain, although she did have bears...
Monotheism/animism Well, one of the titles of God in the Bible is “The Living God” so all of creation as bearing his impress would be alive in varied ways and responsive to human knowing and contact and care. In fact enhanced life of the created comes from that knowing and contact. I experienced this in my rural Midwest upbringing and my parents were unknowingly animistic in their relationship with plants, animals, soil, weather. A revered Native American leader I know teaches that for nature to be at her best, most alive state, she needs the human touch. He speaks also of the Creator and the abilities of his immediate ancestors to be in communion with animals. Apparently a version of this knowledge was in medieval Christianity, before the reign of modernism drove it out. C.S. Lewis plays with this in his science fiction trilogy. He even has a character say we need to get back to it.
I read some of the text here and then flipped over to watching and listening to the videos, in the reverse order they arrived in. I'll get around to reading all of the text in proper order, from the beginning, when the darkness has settled a little bit and I can find rest for it. I'm a bit giddy in the deepening darkness. And the bright which accompanies it, as always -- if only nearby.
Something happened in my dreamy and hypnogogic spaces during the night. I needed to go deeper into the exploration of an idea which has me. The idea I call "disabstraction". It's not a word in common usage--yet--and so I have an opportunity to help shape the way it emerges into being a word in our world. It means just what it says. "Dis-" (a prefix meaning "not" or "opposite of") and abstract (not existing -- or quite existing -- in time and space). So to disabstract something is to return it from its highly abstracted form/s to its more concrete presence in time and space.
Most of what appeals to me in philosophy these days is just that -- disabstraction, disabstracting. And I can't help wondering how much Ivan Illich was attempting to do just the same in relation to some of the things modernity made increasingly abstract -- e.g., economy and technology... and institutions. Wasn't Illich meaning, in large part, to return us to our senses?
Ah, but I'm asking about this matter of our senses in a way which presumes that our senses are nothing more or less than our direct appreciation of things as they are, in the only way we can as humans. And so there are feelings associated with sensing ... or feeling associated with sensing. And various other faculties of knowing. They are not abstracted from one another --- feeling, sensing, intuiting, imagining, thinking.... We lift the tea cup and sip, and these are not abstracted off and away from one another in the experience. They appear as a whole.
But something happened with and to the collective us through the history of modernity which abstracted these faculties for knowing and experiencing, and in this process the knowing heart became lost. (Heart being a symbol for some convergence of a whole.) Ethics and Aesthetics became abstracted from one another. Thinking became abstracted from feeling. The world comes to us through abstracted notions -- senses not attuned to "the whole". We literally lost our senses!
I've yet to read much Illich, but I want to. I especially want to read Illich in relation to what he had to say about the transition from a culture in which food and shelter and water and soil and air and labor... had not yet been abstracted, and thus broken away from livelihood. I want to disabstract that history, to get in close and smell and taste and feel all of its particular textures, so I can know what the hell has happened to us. I'm told Illich explains this better than, say, Karl Polanyi in The Great Transformation.
I want to understand what livelihood means ... what it really means, before the Great Abstraction.
I have just finished listening to that episode of Rune Soup, and am now off to explore the essay by Patrick Curry. Similarly to what I suspect your position might be, I don’t see a necessary opposition between monotheism and animism; if I were feeling bold I might even say that certain monotheistic religions have retained or expressed an animist understanding of the world at various points in their existence (cf. your Rune Soup discussion and the beautiful consideration of Isaiah in David Benjamin Blower's latest). But I always enjoy a thoughtful and well-reasoned expression of a different point of view.
Just signed up for the Regrowing workshop! Looking forward to it.
Hmm, “Into the Deep” a discussion about “Christianity’s Surprising Resurgence” “Are All Christianities Esoteric” and Ivan Illich, a devout Jewish Catholic, monotheism/animism. Could that most unfashionable person, God the Father, be making a sneaky come back? A comment I made on your discussion with Gordon White.
“For me the Trinitarian esoteric heart of Christianity is that through Jesus by the gift of the Holy Spirit you can know the Father and his love inwardly, with you and above you, a foretaste of eternity, a participation in Christ’s own knowing of God, as he said to Mary Magdalene - “ I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”