Category: SpiritMatter

Birthday thoughts

Birthdays, and other such markers (I realized while meditating by the Lamoille river this morning), are an opportunity for pooling together thoughts, those facing back across the memoried past and those facing forward to an open future, and gathering them into a spool of desiring-productive-energy to be set spinning outward. Not only one’s own thoughts, but those of others (such as those I felt* spilling over into my own at a certain moment at that riverside juncture).

Thoughts are the openings from which the future is crafted. Thoughts are not only mind-thoughts; they are body-thoughts, and the more of our bodies (those affective landscapes of motion, emotion, capacity, and orientation) we pack into those thoughts, the stronger they are. Our body has its thoughts, many of which we are not aware of; we are its thoughts as much as they are ours, perhaps more so.

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“Craziness” & habit

In a process-relational view, there are no crazies. There are those who subjectivate with the aid of habits developed in response to conditions that have changed sufficiently that those habits are no longer very effective, or are not considered appropriate by others.

Calling someone — and treating someone as — “crazy” is a way of reifying a particular relationship between one’s own subjectivity and that other’s objectivity. In a process-relational understanding, their objectivity is an artifact of our subjectivation. In reality, they subjectivate as much as we do. Within their own history of subjectivation the habits they have developed make perfect sense. They indicate options selected from an array of possibilities to shape a certain array of subjective propensities.

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I received my copies in the mail this week of the book that arose out of the School of Advanced Research seminar on “Nature, Science, and Religion: Intersections Shaping Society and the Environment.”

It’s a handsome volume, whose contents provide a level of cross-cutting conversation that, I think, is rare among edited collections. Catherine Tucker did a fabulous job editing it.

She and I co-wrote the introductory chapter, which can be read here.

I don’t yet have an electronic version of my closing chapter, “Religious (Re)Turns in the Wake of Global Nature,” but I’d be happy to share a pre-publication version of it upon request. An excerpt of it can be found here.

We are the 1%

The other 99% have apparently gone extinct. (The estimate is actually closer to 100% than 99%.) This I just learned form Joshua Schuster’s talk on “Digital extinction.”

The earth’s biological diversity is also the highest it’s ever been. We are living between the achievement (of speciation to tremendous levels of flourishing) and the projection (that up to half of species will go extinct in the next hundred years, massive extinction being underway). Celebrate the moment.

Appropriate thoughts for Cinco de Mayo (and belatedly for May Day and Beltane).



In a comment to my last post on triads and divinities, my frequent commenter/interlocutor “dmf” points out a nice essay by Robert Gall called “From Daimonion to the ‘Last’ God: Socrates, Heidegger, and the God of the Thinker,” which Mark Fullmer has made available beyond the restricted-access community.

Gall distinguishes between the god of the religious believer, the god of the philosopher (“all those abstract ‘ultimate realities’ that have accumulated throughout the history of Western philosophy that complete some comprehensive, intellectual view of all that is”), and the “god of the theologian,” including those theological “knockoffs,” as Rorty calls them — like Tillich’s of Heidegger, Mark Taylor’s of Derrida, Richard Kearney’s of both (among others), process theologians’ of Whitehead, and, earlier, Aquinas’s of Aristotle — that appropriate philosophy for theology.

To these three Gall adds a fourth: the “god of the thinker.”

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One of the things that Ecologies of the Moving Image has left unresolved, and left me needing to think more about, is the extent to which my Peircian “triadism” holds up.

Philosophically, the case for some sort of triadism as a way of getting around dualisms is, at first blush, appealing. But there are triads, and there are triads.

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In a nutshell

Shinzen Young lays it all out:

He has also started blogging (to add to his other  online  presences).

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Lynn Margulis, r.i.p.

Heard about this last night. She died peacefully at her home in Massachusetts yesterday evening, surrounded by family.

(We had just seen her son Dorion Sagan, son of Carl, give a great talk at the anthropology conference last Friday, after which he and his partner had to speed back to Toronto to get their passports to fly to Boston.)

She was one of most important biologists of the past century, and the female face of the Gaia hypothesis, the radical implications of which have yet to be recognized. (They go beyond the popular interpretations and involve the importance of understanding symbiosis and the role of bacteria in life on Earth.)

May she rest in peace.

The Speculative Realist blogosphere has recently been alight with debates over the role of religion, God, theism versus nihilism, the secular and the “post-secular,” and other such things. Since these are topics I’m naturally interested, and somewhat invested, in, I ought to participate, but time constraints have made that all but impossible for me recently.

(One of those constraints is a trip this week to the Rachel Carson Center in Munich for “Moving Environments: Affect, Emotion, and Ecocinema,” about which I intend to blog, and perhaps live-blog, while there. I leave tomorrow, so stay tuned for more on that.)

Adam’s post Knowledge Ecology provides a useful way into these discussions, but see also these posts at Footnotes to Plato (and this one), Plastic Bodies, Immanent Transcendence, Larval Subjects, and After Nature.

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Time magazine’s Healthland supplement summarizes a recent clinical study of 18 healthy, spiritually inclined adults who were administered a certain drug over 5 eight-hour sessions. Among the results:

Fourteen months after participating in the study, 94% of those who received the drug said the experiment was one of the top five most meaningful experiences of their lives; 39% said it was the single most meaningful experience.

Critically, however, the participants themselves were not the only ones who saw the benefit from the insights they gained: their friends, family member and colleagues also reported that [X] had made the participants calmer, happier and kinder.

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