The seat of the soul is where the inner world and the outer world meet. Where they overlap, it is in every point of the overlap. - Novalis

Friday, December 31, 2010

International Journal of Illich Studies

The International Journal of Illich Studies is an open access, interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed publication dedicated to engaging the thought and writing of Ivan Illich and his circle.  Articles/Reviews/Reflections are invited on any subject that intersects with the wide range of IIlich’s ideas, or that represent a version of the social critique for which he became famous on matters such as modern developmentalism, industrialized "progress," institutional bureaucratization, the heuristic role played by historical consciousness, the moral life, and/or the privatization/publicization of the lay commons.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Hakuin Ekaku at the Japan Society in NYC

Spiritual Seeker With a Taste For the Satirical
Published: December 23, 2010

"Every so often we are shocked — shocked! — to learn that a great artist was not such a great human being. In these disillusioned modern times, we have learned to separate artistic and literary achievement from the artist’s moral character. We may admire the works of Tolstoy, CĂ©line, Picasso and Pollock and overlook their failings as people. Still, the fantasy that spiritual and artistic evolution should go hand in hand is hard to give up.
So it is refreshing to encounter an artist who was, by all accounts, a man of transcendent character who made commensurately wonderful art. Such a rare case is that of Hakuin Ekaku (1685-1768), the Japanese calligrapher and draftsman, who is regarded by those in the know as the most important Zen master of the last 500 years. It was Hakuin who came up with the koan “What is the sound of one hand?” to which popular imagination has added “clapping.” " READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Sole of the Earth

"It is quite possible that India is the real world ... and that the white man lives in a madhouse of abstractions. Life in India has not yet withdrawn into the capsule of the head. It is still the whole body that lives. No wonder the European feels dreamlike; the complete life of India is something of which he merely dreams. When you walk with naked feet, how can you ever forget the earth?" - C.G. Jung CW10¶988

Friday, December 17, 2010

Goodbye to the Captain

Captain Beefheart  - An Immortal.Individual

Rolling Stone
Entertainment Weekly
Ron Silliman has the best set of links

Read Rolling Stone's 1970 cover story on Captain Beefheart

Once, referring to a famed jazz saxophonist, Beefheart told critic Lester Bangs, “Well, he moved me, but he didn't move me as much as a goose, say. Now that could be a hero, a gander goose could definitely be a hero, the way they blow their heart out for nothing."

Jung and Phenomenology

Jung and Phenomenology by Roger Brooke, Routledge, 1991; Trivium, 2009.

I am finding this fine volume of use, as I did several years ago and I'm happy to see that it has been re-issued. Brooke goes a long way towards untangling the philosophical incoherences in Jung's work and freeing his profound psychological insights from some of his more dubious and contentious claims. This is a nice companion to Ed Casey's work which I mentioned in an earlier blog. This book seems to me indispensable for anyone thinking seriously about Jung's work.

Now at Duquesne, Brooke lists the writers who have been most influential to his work on his faculty page and I think the list gives a good idea of the nature of this book: Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Jung, Freud, Winnicott, Guntrip, Melanie Klein, Casement, Laing, Samuels and other post-Jungians, Boss, Romanyshyn.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Six Impossible Things

`Only it is so very lonely here!' Alice said in a melancholy voice; and, at the thought of her loneliness, two large tears came rolling down her cheeks.
`Oh, don't go on like that!' cried the poor Queen, wringing her hands in despair. `Consider what a great girl you are. Consider what a long way you've come to-day. Consider what o'clock it is. Consider anything, only don't cry!'
Alice could not help laughing at this, even in the midst of her tears. `Can you keep from crying by considering things?' she asked.
`That's the way it's done,' the Queen said with great decision: `nobody can do two things at once, you know. Let's consider your age to begin with -- how old are you?'
`I'm seven and a half, exactly.'
`You needn't say "exactly",' the Queen remarked. `I can believe it without that. Now I'll give you something to believe. I'm just one hundred and one, five months and a day.'
`I ca'n't believe that!' said Alice.
`Ca'n't you?' the Queen said in a pitying tone. `Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.'
Alice laughed. `There's no use trying,' she said `one ca'n't believe impossible things.'
`I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. `When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast...

I used that last line as the motto in my high school yearbook a very long time ago. That statement and the hope that it expresses have stayed with me my entire life. So it was with considerable surprise and delight that I found John Tarrant using it as the epigraph to his discussion of the "Rhinoceros" koan in Bring me the Rhinoceros. Tarrant says "The inconceivable is the source of all that comes into being." This is the principle of what medieval theology called apophatic theology. Olivier Clement speaks of an apophatic anthropology. That is just what Tarrant is proposing as one of the many ways of understanding the emptiness at the heart of zen. I love his profound, slender book.

And as a really unsurprising example of the predictability and ubiquity of the opposite approach to life is this: As I searched for an online version of Lewis Carroll's tale (from Through the Looking Glass by the way) I came upon THIS - biologist Lewis Wolpert's tale of evolutionary psychology. I have no doubt it's a fine book and a very good read, and I would probably enjoy it. I'm just not interested in living that way anymore.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Anthropologists at War

A short article in the NY Times of Dec. 9th (Anthropology a Science?) recalls John Tierney's book Darkness in El Dorado and the uproar and controversy it sparked. Here is a review of Darkness in El Dorado from 2000. And Douglas Hume's information clearinghouse page is essential. This entire debate takes place at the extremely interesting interface between the "sciences" and the "humanities." As always it's at the boundaries where the most important issues arise. A really close study of this controversy would be well worth the time and effort. Anyone with an interest in Jung's work, and depth psychology in general, would find many of the same puzzles and controversies played out here. One could, of course, trace the roots of this methodological and hermeneutic conflict starting probably with Plato, running through Galileo's troubles with the Church and continuing up through Heidegger and right into the postmodernists as the Dec. 9th article suggests. And many  people have already done so. But the questions are still alive for me. An example: why does Heidegger get to ignore Darwin? I have my own answers, but the questions remain. The issues are important and won't be going away any time soon. Archetypal, probably.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Kabloona by Gontran de Poncins, and Lewis Galantière. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1941.

It's finally really winter at our house. Snow and temperatures in the 'teens (F) and maybe near zero tonight. Have to break up the animal's water morning & night - horse's, chicken's, and goat's. Which reminds me of this really remarkable book. A tale of the real cold and the far north. This is at least as good as anything Freuchen or Rasmussen ever wrote. It's been in a few editions over the years for good reason. I happen to have the first & I think I've read it three times, the first when I was quite young. The author starts with a very condescending social Darwinist view of the poor, ignorant savages, but it's not long before he begins to see the world from a rather different point of view. He's not a scientist, and for that reason perhaps, this is a really terrific story, full of unforgettable scenes. A must read for anyone with an interest in the Inuit and life in the North. The description of Father Henry, a Catholic priest, ascetic and hermit who lived in a 6 foot by 6 foot ice hut near Pelly Bay for almost 20 years, is nearly beyond imagining. [I discover that more can be learned about Father Henry in Hummocks: Journeys and Inquiries Among the Canadian Inuit, by Jean Malauri.]

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bodhidharma's Vast Emptiness...

Bring Me the Rhinoceros: And Other Zen Koans That Will Save Your Life By John Tarrant. Shambala, 2008.

I haven't finished this, and it will take me a while to do so, a few pages at a time. But I think this is a fine little volume that I unhesitatingly recommend. For a long time I have been powerfully attracted by what little I know of "zen," and over the years books by both Suzukis (D.T and Shunryu) have been of inestimable value to me. I am finding this book more useful even than Tarrant's earlier The Light Inside the Dark.

Friday, December 3, 2010

more on insects...

While exploring cyberspace for a talk on bedbugs for my day job I chanced upon a magnificent blog on insects - it makes me wish yet again that I was still an entomologist (I suppose I am, in fact... but not much practicing). Don't miss Alex Wild's MYRMECOS blog and his associated websites. Oh, and his photos of Cimex lectularius are first rate.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Edward S. Casey on the Imagination

I first met Ed Casey at Pacifica Graduate Institute a few years ago. I had known of his essays in archetypal psychology and of his long standing friendship with James Hillman. And I even once had a student read his Getting Back into Place which is a marvelous study in "ecological" phenomenology. But even then I had not appreciated the astonishing breadth and depth of his work. I am proud to count this kind and wonderful man as a friend. I am currently trying to put together some thoughts on the meaning of Imagination in Corbin, Jung and Hillman, and  I have long wanted to read and re-read some of Casey's writings. I've just finished the first essays in Spirit & Soul: Essays in Philosophical Psychology (Spring Publication, 1991) and I am stunned. I can't believe I haven't read more of his work. But then I was involved in different things. I take this opportunity to draw attention to his books - which are critical for anyone interested in the philosophy & psychology of the imagination. Ed is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at SUNY Stony Brook and his faculty page has a nice list of his books and articles, including his most recent, The World at a Glance. He is also on the faculty at Pacifica. I have my work cut out for me now for quite a little while catching up on his thinking.