Whatever our tradition, race or perspective we have our stories. Stories of mystics in hovels who see the battle of demons in clouds and constellations. The past is full of symbols heroic to some but to another a demonic memory.
Civilizations have divergent views of what is good .Lack of political imagination turns one against another as if happiness and success comes from outside yourself. Elections are won by plying the fears of economic rationalism. We cant even agree on what is good or on human univerals so International charters are too hard to define in meaningful ways.
I find myself debating Habermass or Bloch. Is culture simply the unfinished moulding and remoulding “perpetually, unavoidably and irredeemably noch nicht gewroden (not yet accomplished) (earnest Bloch)” or the perpetuation of a sameness a preservative of something.
Is culture reason and rationality the centre of culture? (Jugen Habermass ) Will reason will offer a more expansive diverse view of nature that saves us? Will it offer the good life or be civilizations destruction.
Maybe like Charles Taylor we must ask whether culture is the question of what is good “self hood and good, or in another way selfhood and morality, turn out to be inextricably intertwined themes”
But modernity dismantles the old an amalgam of new beginnings, institutions and reasons new form of malaise, meaninglessness, impending social dissolution.
We are fractured from the past seeking new horizon . Missing the elusive obvious that something else going on. Unlike Tree dwelling animals whose eyes glow in the dark as hues of red yellow green, it seems we are blind to our own darkness.
While religion and tradition have not the power they once did they are still potent. Or as buber put it the self only exists in relation to other selves ( a hindu may disagree). I wonder if instead we could realise that in seeking for love we draw on something that already resides within us.
Could that be the lessons of religion ad history?
Politicians like to turn history into the theatre of their ideals, just as 19th century evangelicals saw geography of as a screen for their theology. Visions that morph from dreams of change and escalate from The Blitz to a German firestorms.
Anthroplogy, as Said reminds us, has been complicit in colonialism (which is why some cultures over react to anything that smacks of it ie recent banning of Donigers Alternative History) “The insinuations, the imbrications of power into even the most recondite studies”
At times the will to understand is confused with the will to dominate.
But can an identity transcend imperialism or economic onslaught of rationalism and the conservative denials of a racist past.
Or does modernity mean assimilation that gives up on our history? Like the Jewish people who kept their identity through invasions of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome? Not without challenges even compromises. The Jews that fled to Egypt and – as Professor Haran has dug up- built their own temple, saw it destroyed by Lamb worshipping Egyptians, but then without animal sacrifices had their sanctuary. I think also of Freud and Josephus – deniers perhaps betrayers of their tradition had to return to their past to know themself
So who am i? Not Jewish, yet fascinated by a Jewish truth. Not Indian, yet at home in Bhopal?
Agamemnon killed his daughter by divine command but was seen a hero. To demand his people to sacrifice their sons for a battle in Troy he should do the same. Abraham nearly offered Isaac because God dsaid. One view admires humanity, another admires the world of Law inspired by God.
Literal laws have context which changes over time. It is the law in the heart that transcends all. Most traditions teach it, respect for age, honesty, purity , internalized for in the heart word cannot be held captive by ego drven politics when it lives in hearts.
Perhaps, as Stein suggests, we need to combine the intuitive primitive past with the intellectually modern evolved man. Where compassion a counterpoint to candor, and where ego does not fall for its machinations
Can the modern continuous renewal, changes its responses from chaotic to coherent? Confused, and violent to atruistic?
Can we be idealistic instead of ideological?
I suppose it depends where you are standing.
Factory work may offer possibilities for youth whose parents see it as a traditions destruction. The decimation of what was once – for them at least – good. . i(Or do their memories ignore the pain and create a fantasy?)
Rudolf Steiners spoke of the anthrospocial intuitive, of imagination,inspiration and intuition.[ Building on Goethe’s idea of imagination synthesizing the sense-perceptible form of a thing (an image of its outer appearance) and the concept we have of its inner nature. If we also observe our own thinking processes, says Steiner, we can go further.
“The organ of observation and the observed thought process are then identical, so that the condition thus arrived at is simultaneously one of perception through thinking and one of thought through perception.” He argued.
Reminiscent of Indian meditation he considered sensory free thinking possible.
I am all for going beyond the thinking framed by our limited circumstances but attempts at superhuman thinking – even if possible – seem limited to an elite few.
Sadly history tells us that a sheep given the mantle of leadership with a desparate crowd needing direction can be corrupted.
Still … I wonder …
I do want to see life from multiple angles, like Wordsworth’s archetypical child that captures the essence of both his past self and his present self. For Wordswoerth this child becomes nearly god-like as “some other Being” providing a sense of freedom from the chains of adulthood. At the same time, this adult of childlike innocence can experience a rebirth that allows the knowledge of age to mingle with the purity of youth.
In this state of wonder we can “engage the response of the whole man” utilizing what Jung will later refer to as the four functions of thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition. … and immediately I am reminded of the four worlds or levels in Kabbalah.
While, modern polity seems however to be one dimensional, the mystic that I favour, like wordswprth does not deny the spiritual in favor of the material; he does not deny feelings in favor of rational thought; and he does not deny intuition in favour of scientific knowledge. Instead, Wordsworth builds “up a Work that shall endure,” and as a “Prophet of Nature” he becomes “A lasting inspiration, sanctified/By reason, bles
t by faith” (Prelude 14.311, 446-448).
An idea that fuels the heart will not be imprisoned by society and the societies of the new century will be shaped by a new youth fuelled with hope, passion, and reality. A WE generation if they choose to grasp it.