Cambridge Centre for the study of Western Esotericism

Research, Reviews, Conferences

Monkey Junk”— Zora Neale Hurston’s Experiment in Oragean Modernism

Sophia Wellbeloved and Jon Woodson

Monkey Junk”— Zora Neale Hurston’s Experiment in Oragean Modernism   

Abstract

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A.R. Orage’s literary celebrity attracted a large following among the New York intellectuals of the 1920s including the Harlem Renaissance. He gave creative writing workshops and lectured on Gurdjieff’s esotericism, gradually forming his own version—Oragean Modernism. According to Gurdjieff, objective art is the only art that has value, and Zora Neale Hurston and other Harlem writers were engaged in the quest for objective art. Orage’s writing groups performed the contradictory functions of disseminating Gurdjieff’s ideas into society with the hope of raising the number of people belonging to the circle of conscious humanity, while at the same time preserving the teachings by placing them in a coded form in widely distributed popular texts. Hurston’s story, F was an attempt both to spread the Gurdjieffian teaching through objective art and to make sure that esoteric ideas would survive the collapse of the present form of civilization. In this story Hurston’s concerns are complex, being synthesized from anthropological research, the Bible, Orage’s teachings, and the literary model of Gurdjieff’s Tales.

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1. Oragean Modernism

      Alfred Richard Orage, (1873 – 1934) began his professional life as a charismatic intellectual school teacher who lectured and wrote variously on Plato, Nietzsche, Theosophy, and psychoanalysis. His political interests included Fabian Socialism and monetary reform. He co-founded the Leeds Art Club, which became a center for modernist culture in pre-World War I England (Webb 200). Orage’s interests and concerns included personal and political well-being, eventually extending to a concern for cosmological and planetary well-being that would profoundly influence his pupils in New York. In 1916 he moved to London, where he edited the influential literary weekly The New Age, publishing G. K. Chesterton, H. G. Wells, Bernard Shaw, Katherine Mansfield, and others including Ezra Pound with whom he wrote several issues of The New Age. During that phase of his life, he was considered by T. S. Eliot “the finest critical intelligence of our age” (Taylor 16).  However, in October 1922, having heard the Greek-Armenian guru George Ivanovich Gurdjieff give a talk in London, Orage left The New Age and England to work with Gurdjieff at his “Institute For the Harmonious Development of Man” in France.

    Gurdjieff (1886?-1949) offered a teaching that was a blend of Theosophy, a variety of predominantly Western esoteric sources, and hypnotism and other therapeutic practices. He used a methodology composed of practical work on the self and sacred dancing, along with alchemical, psychological, and cosmological theory, to “wake up” and develop human beings whom he defined as sleeping, hypnotized machines with no central “I” or soul. Orage remained a practitioner and assiduous disseminator of Gurdjieff’s teaching, known as the Work (and in America also as the Method), for the next ten years.

    When Orage arrived in New York in December 1923, fourteen months after leaving England for the Institute, he set about raising funds and arousing interest in the teaching. Gurdjieff himself arrived a month later in January 1924 for a highly publicized visit, during which he gave talks and demonstrations of his sacred dances in New York, Boston and Chicago. Orage’s literary celebrity attracted a large following among the New York intellectuals of the 1920s. He gave creative writing workshops, and lectured on Gurdjieff’s teaching, gradually emphasizing and moderating elements of the teaching to form his own version of it that differed from the Work as taught by Gurdjieff in Europe.  Orage’s modernism was imbued by Gurdjieff’s esotericism, and both elements were embraced by his pupils.

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2. Esotericism — the Tales and Objective Works of Art

    Beginning in 1925, Orage became the principal editor of the first volume of Gurdjieff’s three volume work known as Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson (Tales) [1], and his continuing process of editing and interpreting the chapters as they arrived from France over the next four years was shared with his American pupils (Driscoll 3) and also with other pupils in France. The book became central to Orage’s teaching, especially of his Gurdjieff study groups, such as the Harlem group, led by Orage with the assistance of  poet and novelist Jean Toomer and psychologist and mystery-writer C. Daly King.

    The epic narrative of the Tales takes place during a voyage on a spaceship. Beelzebub tells his grandson of his own exile to our solar system, the creation of Earth, the multiple Gnostic Falls, the failures of men and their worsening state, the only remedy for which is remembrance of death.

Gurdjieff meant his reader or listener, the text was often read aloud, to be confused by the complex sentence structure of the Tales,by its many anomalies, contradictions, inconsistencies, and by the acknowledged deceptions within the narrative (See Wellbeloved 2002, 77-83). Gurdjieff warned his reader that he was unique in respect to “muddling and befuddling, the notions and convictions of everyone he comes into contact with” (Tales 26). Published posthumously in 1949, the book has 1238 pages, all of which he had intentionally made difficult to understand.  The text includes his reading instructions, but these are in themselves contradictory and so are impossible to follow. Gurdjieff said he had “buried” a secret that readers should search for, and gives an apparent clue as to how the secret was buried. He describes how a questioning attention can be drawn to decode a secret message by what he terms a “lawful inexactitude.” The secret is pointed to by placing something “out of place” or in the wrong scale, for example an otherwise perfectly proportioned sculpture might have hands that are far too big (Tales 461). The law in question in “lawful inexactitude” is the Law of Seven, a series of descending vibrations that represents the inevitably destructive nature of time (Webb 503; 40; 141-42). This has led his many readers to search through multiple readings for the one “lawful inexactitude” that might reveal Gurdjieff’s secret. Orage himself was convinced there was a specific secret that Gurdjieff was withholding from him, and the members of his groups also engaged in this search.

    The Harlem writers, along with the other pupils, believed the Tales to be an objective work of art.  According to Gurdjieff, objective art is the only form of art that has value. Its meaning cannot be mistaken, whereas subjective art made by “mechanical man” can be misunderstood. However, to understand objective art a person must have “at least flashes of objective consciousness” (Ouspensky  298; also see Wellbeloved 11). So, searching alone is not the way to find objective meaning in an objective work of art; this can only be found by raising the level of consciousness, becoming “an initiate of art.”  

    While the demand to make or write an objective work of art may have inhibited readers and writers immediately within Gurdjieff’s influence, this was clearly not the case with Orage’s group of writers who were intent on writing their own objective works of art (Woodson 9-10). They also related his teaching to Objective Drama as expounded by Orage together with Gurdjieff’s teaching on the necessity to play roles (Webb 537-41). Orage emphasized the central place of esotericists in the world especially in relation to evolution. The evolution or self-perfecting of individuals was said to be necessary also for the safe evolution of the planet. If there were not a sufficient number of evolved people within a certain time frame, the planet could be destroyed. Ideas of specially evolved members of a “conscious circle of humanity” were in accord with contemporary notions that extended Darwinian evolution to describe a Nietzschean evolution of man into a super-race. Gurdjieff’s teaching echoed that of Blavatsky’s specially evolved “Masters.” Orage’s writing groups performed the contradictory functions of disseminating Gurdjieff’s ideas into society with the hope of raising the number of people belonging to the circle of conscious humanity, while at the same time preserving the teachings by placing them in a coded form in widely distributed popular texts.   

    Thus Zora Neale Hurston’s short story, “Monkey Junk: A Satire on Modern Divorce,” was one of those attempts both to spread the Gurdjieffian teaching and to make sure that the ideas would survive the collapse of the present form of civilization. In order to serve in this capacity, the story sets out to entertain the reader, while also containing a highly concentrated hidden content. “Monkey Junk” entertains by performing a satirical treatment of the flapper phenomenon under the guise of being a satire on marriage, the flapper and marriage themes being treated through a comic parody of the Bible. The story exhibits little concern with marriage or divorce, and the depiction of the wife through French garters (verse 29) and silk stockings (verse 45) establishes that the wife was a flapper; the wife’s casual treatment of sex (verses 13, 14, 33, 39) also establishes her identity as a flapper. Dorothy Parker’s satirical depiction of the flapper in her poem “The Flapper” (published in Lifein 1922) parallels the wife’s treatment of the husband in “Monkey Junk”: the poem’s concluding couplet states “Her golden rule is plain enough / Just get them young and treat them rough” (Parker 113-14). Parker’s use of the Bible barely registers, though her reference to the golden rule relates to a specific verse, Matthew 7:12,

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (KJV). Hurston’s story is written in a parody of Biblical verses, and she refers to Matthew 7:12 directly in the first verse as “he knew all the law and the prophets” and in verse 14 with the mockery of “he that is so wise and knoweth all the law and the profits.” The passage occurs a third time in verse 25 of Hurston’s story:

25.“Thou art very dumb for nowthat I, thy husband, knoweth that thou art a flirt, making glad the heart of back-biters, I shall support thee no more—for verily know I ALL the law and the profits thereof.” (Emphasis added)

Not only must the reader conclude that Hurston has intentionally emphasized Matthew 7:12, but that when the word “now” appears instead of “know” that this also is intentional. Hurston has engaged the phonetic level of language, and prophet/profitand know/nowactively point to this altered interpretive convention.

While directly humorous treatments of the Bible were rare in the 1920s, we may see Hurston’s treatment of religion as being in step with the writings of Sinclair Lewis and H.L. Menken: Menken’s “nihilistic criticism of American culture—literature, politics and religionmade him among the most hated and admired men in America” (emphasis added; Cheatham “Provincial America in the 1920s”). Hurston’s blasphemy is moderated, because she has cast the language of the Bible into the black sociolect of the 1920s. Blind Willie McTell’s ragtime lyric “A Married Man’s a Fool” incorporates a similar parody of the Bible, though unlike the text of “Monkey Junk” it lacks a frame [2]. Hurston’s derisory treatment of the Bible is further made complex by the fact that she placed her story in a black newspaper, The Pittsburgh Courier,tacitly the national news organ for the black Americans of that era. The implication of the folk-parody approach is that the popular understanding and practice of the Christian religion is itself a parody of a more authentic version of the religion.

Hurston includes direct and indirect references to the Bible, which she knew would have been recognized by her readers. At the same time her exploitation of the Bible’s familiarity worked against the expectations of her readers, since Hurston’s use of these references is consistently ironic. Among others we find:

Then did he make a joyful noise saying, “Behold, I have chosen a wife, yea verily a maiden Ihave exalted above all others, for see I have wed her.” (“Monkey Junk” verse 5; emphases added)

A joyful noise” is made by the Psalmist in Psalms 95:1 and 98:4; while the maiden with the attribute of “exalted above all others” is referred to within Catholicism as Mary Mother of God.

And he gave praises loudly unto the Lord saying, “I thank thee that I am not as other men.”

refers to Luke 18:11:

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as

other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

In Matthew 13:45-46 the Kingdom of heaven is like a pearl of great price, for which a rich merchant sells all he has; in Hurston’s verse 13 the pearl refers to a woman who sells herself.   

    Then did his pearl of great price form the acquaintance of many men and they prospered her.

    It is difficult to assess the practical application of the Harlem group to the whole of Gurdjieff’s teaching, but in relation to their own writings all of them employed “inexactitudes,” in order to draw attention to Gurdjieff’s book and his teaching. Whereas Gurdjieff gives the visual example of a dis-proportioned sculpture in the Tales (Gurdjieff 1950 477), the participating writers of the Harlem group, Zora Neale Hurston, George Schuyler, Nella Larsen, Gwendolyn Bennett, Eric Walrond, Richard Bruce Nugent, Rudolph Fisher, Wallace Thurman, and Melvin B. Tolson began to look for ways to include unexpected insertions, absurdities, or apparent errors that might point to concealed texts within their texts that would lead readers to Gurdjieff’s book and to his teaching. Thus the Harlem group, believing that they had little time to save the world from destruction, operated at a high level of anxiety. The eschatological fixations of the Oragean Modernists drove them to create a considerable body of published writing in a very short time [3].

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3. Gurdjieff and Literature

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    Gurdjieff spent much time writing in Parisian cafés and so was not isolated from the cultural milieu of 1920s and 1930s Paris, a center for European esotericists and American writers. The conflation of these two groups can be seen in modernist interest in the occult, esotericism, and myth. Gurdjieff’s institute attracted many literary figures, and Gurdjieff himself collected an influential group of writers willing to translate and to edit his writings. Although Gurdjieff insists that the Talesis not a literary work, he was aware of modernist literary interest in myth, esotericism, and the desire for immaterial values that pervaded the inter-war years.

    Prominent literary pupils of Gurdjieff are well known in the Work, via the lists of participants in books by Louise Welch, James Webb, and Paul Beekman Taylor. For example, in the 1910s and 1920s, The Little Review—published in Greenwich Village from 1917 to 1929—was the most influential literary magazine in the world. It was the first to publish a chapter of James Joyce’s Ulysses, for which the editors, Jane Heap and Margaret Anderson were tried for obscenity. The editors became followers of Gurdjieff in 1924 after meeting him in New York and spending the summer at his Institute in France (Webb 276-285). Despite the centrality of Oragean Modernism to the creation and dissemination of modernist culture, the Gurdjieffian project is maligned and castigated when it is noticed, as in this discussion by Kristin M. Mabel Bloomberg:

Another notorious guru was the Russian mystic and dancemaster George Ivanovitch

Gurdjieff who turned from the idealistic tenets of Theosophy to a philosophy

of “barbarism and primitivism” (170) that highlighted the ideology of man as

the noble savage and encouraged its students to become conscious of their

true selves and to cease being human machines. For Gurdjieff, this practice

could not be a pleasant one, and the process was “enhanced” with an emphasis

on stress, pain, tension, and conflict. Gurdjieff ’s philosophy is one that is

linked explicitly by Peter Washington in Madame Blavatsky’s Baboon to the

Left Bank lesbian expatriate circle that included Jane Heap, Margaret Anderson,

Djuna Barnes, and Janet Flanner (288). Gurdjieff ’s ideals also surface in

Harlem, with Thadious Davis linking a study group led by Gurdjieff disciple

Jean Toomer to writers including Nella Larsen. (24-5)

4. Hurston’s Esoteric Content

Zora Neale Hurston was a prominent figure in the Harlem Renaissance, and studies of the movement describe her as a participant in Jean Toomer’s Gurdjieff groups (see Woodson 147-70). In the 1920s Hurston was in New York studying anthropology with Franz Boas at Columbia University, and during that period she came into contact with such important white cultural figures as Carl Van Vechten, Fannie Hurst, C. Daly King, her patron Charlotte Osgood Mason, and A.R. Orage who presided over the New York Gurdjieff groups. Orage organized writing seminars that attracted many important writers, and for many members of the Harlem group of writers the Harlem Renaissance was a subset of this wider, esoteric literary movement. Orage’s influence on these groups of writers has been acknowledged by writers on esotericism but not by mainstream scholars of literature. Academic adherents of American Studies routinely frames Oragean Modernists figures as nationalists, so that the esoteric content of the works produced by these figures has not previously been realized. It is not only Hurston who has been evaluated without reference to these fundamental components. Such writers as Djuna Barnes, Dawn Powell, C. Daly King, Carl Van Vechten, and James Agee have introduced into their writings the same esoteric elements (phonetic codes, roman a clef of esotericists, intentional mistakes, and esoteric vocabulary) as Hurston used in her texts. Hurston’s participation in the Harlem Renaissance and her affiliation with Toomer, Orage, C. Daly King, and Van Vechten turned her to esoteric influences that are evident in her writings once they are read with attention to this aspect. The esoteric content within Zora Neal Hurston’s writings is consistent from “Monkey Junk” (1927) to her incomplete novel, “Herod,” (snatched from a fire after her death in 1964). It is only through the well-documented disinterest of literary scholars in occultism [4] that there are such consistent misreadings of Hurston. Hurston’s texts make it clear that their many anomalies are signs of a coded, esoteric level. Hurston’s critics have detected this esoteric level but have explained it away by portraying Hurston as an eccentric. For example, on her Mules and Menwebsite Laura Grand-Jean states that “More than anything Zora Neale Hurston was the worlds greatest liar and her own duplicity explains why for so long she was lost to us”  (Grand-Jean “Introduction”).

It is likely that Hurston absorbed the system of esoteric literary coding from her close associate Carl Van Vechten. Van Vechten, a best-selling novelist in the 1920s, is acknowledged to have been vital to the publishing of Harlem Renaissance texts, and he befriended the Harlem writers. Moreover, there is a direct literary influence from Van Vechten on Nella Larsen who stated that Van Vechten’s novel, Nigger Heaven (1926)was one of the big influences on Harlem and its artistic life (Davis 212). Moreover, Thadious Davis states that when Larsen was writing her first novel, Quicksand (1928), she ceased writing, read Nigger Heaven, and then after destroying a good half of what was completed, returned to work on her novel keeping Nigger Heaven as a stylistic model (Davis 212). This account does not specify what is meant by matters of style. Since literary scholars do not recognize that Van Vechten was himself a follower of Gurdjieff or that Nigger Heavenis an esoteric text, their assessment of its influence on Larsen (and on Hurston) is incomplete [5]. The code used by Van Vechten and the other writers in the Gurdjieff camp was the phonetic cabala, the traditional code used by the writers of alchemical texts since the fourteenth century. (Research on the use of codes in Oragean Modernism is at a preliminary stage, and more papers will follow.) At about the same time as Van Vechten began to write his novels in the cabala, Fulcanelli’s Le Mystère des Cathédrales(1926) was published making the delineation of the alchemical code available to a wide audience. But as Van Vechten moved in Parisian artistic circles, he and his American associates may have had access to early copies of the Fulcanelli [6] book or even direct access to Fulcanelli.

5. Hurston, C. Daly King, and Van Vechten

Hurston’s reverence for Carl Van Vechten has long been remarked. They met when she was working as a secretary for the writer Fannie Hurst. They liked each other instantly and shared a close friendship thereafter [7]. But this association has dismayed Hurston’s scholars and has not stimulated them to make a close exploration of the literary consequences of their friendship: Van Vechten is seldom dealt with by scholars of the Harlem Renaissance writers and only insofar as his novel, Nigger Heaven, is found by them to be inescapable. Major treatments of the Harlem Renaissance (Amritjit Singh, Theodore Francis) make no mention of Van Vechten’s other novels, though Thadious Davis’s biography of Nella Larsen establishes that Larsen read Van Vechten’s Peter Wiffle(1922) and that by 1929 he was one of her favorite authors (Davis 165). Yet, Van Vechten was a prolific best-selling novelist, and his novels were the models for some of the Harlem Renaissance writers. More to the point, some of Van Vechten’s novels concern themselves with esoteric material, and Firecrackers(1925) is a thinly veiled presentation of A.R Orage’s organizing of the New York branch of G. I. Gurdjieff’s “Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man.” Beneath the roman a clef, Van Vechten’s Firecrackersis more deeply coded using the cabala cipher.

In Firecrackers, Van Vecthen’s fourth novel, a character clearly based on Muriel Draper organizes Pinchon’s Prophylactic Plan, a school of self-development based on Ouspensky, Arthur E. Waite, Gurdjieff, Jaques-Dalcroze, and Einstein (175), so that Van Vechten cannot actually be said to have removed his fictional school very far from the actualities of Orage’s school. The list in the novel presents only Jaques-Dalcroze and Einstein as red herrings—though the former was, like Gurdjieff, a teacher of therapeutic dance and there is a great deal about science in the Tales. Van Vechten’s character, Miss Pinchon, the organizer of the fictional school, was based on New York saloniste and interior decorator Muriel Draper. Draper was a close associate of both Van Vechten and Orage. In fact, Draper was responsible for the running of the New York branch of Gurdjieff’s Institute, thus allowing A. R. Orage the freedom to organize an extensive movement that maintained an influential literary component [8].

    C. Daly King is another important influence on Hurston who has not been taken into account by Hurston scholars: he studied at Columbia University during the period of Hurston’s anthropology studies at that school. King wrote the “Obelist” series of detective novels, novels that are esoteric, written in code, and contain characters based on Jean Toomer and other Gurdjieffians; the word “obelist” is a variant of obelisk, a character used in ancient manuscripts to indicate spurious passages, so that the very titles of King’s novels declare their duplicity. It is of central importance that King compiled Orage’s teachings into The Oragean Version (unpublished, 1951), a widely circulated volume which contains the essential esoteric doctrines on which Hurston based her fictions.

6. “Monkey Junk; A Satire on Modern Divorce”   

Monkey Junk” is contained in faux-Biblical verses numbered from 1 – 62, but the alert reader encounters a number of anomalies, or what we are calling “lawful inexactitudes.” The first evidence of “lawful inexactitude” is Hurston’s question-provoking use of a title apparently unrelated to her story about a rich man who, imagining that he understands women, marries a wife who only wants his money, for it is not apparent that the words monkey junkconnote anything about divorce. When the husband doesn’t give his wife enough money, she turns to other men, and he is scorned for being a cuckold. The central action of the story is a trial in which due to her sex appeal and tears she is unjustly granted alimony. Her husband threatens her with violence, but she is scornful, and he returns to Alabama to pick cotton.

The titleMonkey Junk” reflects Hurston’s dependenceon self-educated, nineteenth century  Egyptologist Gerald Massey. In Massey’s Ancient Egypt, the light of the world, on page 889 he has a footnote that reads “The Ankh-key of life.” This corresponds phonetically to “monkey” in the title of Hurston’s story, and it gives the meaning of Hurston’s strange construction. Massey explains the word Ank as meaning “the living one,” in A Book of The Beginnings(209), and he connects the title of “the god Tum in Pithom as being the Ankh, the living; he being the sun of the resurrection; written in Egyptian … as P-ankh, Punk, or Punch.” Massey goes on:

 Punch and Nuk have their correlatives in Hunch, Bunch, and Junk. Punch means the short, fat, pudgy, thick-set fellow, whence the puncheon. So in the Xhosa and Zulu Kaffir dialects a short thickset pudge of a person is called isi-Tupana from tupa, the thumb. The “hunch” of bread is a thick lump; the junkis also a short thick lump (Massey 2007, 209; emphases added).

    Massey connects the English language to the Egyptian language in a manner that is original to Massey [9], so that it is clear that Massey is Hurston’s source for these inclusions.  It is also clear that Hurston has followed Massey’s disclosures, for the story emphasizes words that Massey has interpolated from “ankh” (“Monkey” [onk]) into the English words “hunk” (verses 20, 61) and “junk” (title).Furthermore,junk” was 1920s slang for opium, the drug that induces sleep, the condition that Orage was teaching his followers precludes possession of a soul and so leads to death unless a person “wakes up.” Because it was such a powerful metaphor for sleep, Gurdjieff inserted thirty-two references to opium into the Tales (see Anon, Guide & Index, 431), some of them extended: opium as a drug, as a civil evil, a religious doctrine formed to combat the use of it, its culture, and scientific inquiry into its chemical constituents.

7. The Verses: biblical lawful inexactitudes?

The biblical verse form used in “Monkey Junk” immediately suggests a biblical content or a biblical reading of the wife’s story, but there are also indirect references to the Egyptian Book of the Dead, to Gerald Massey’s writings, and to Gurdjieff’s parody of the judgement of the dead by “Mister” God in an invented religion (Tales 217-18) in Beelzebub’s Tales. The narrative of a trial, which results in an unjust judgement, allows Hurston to explore themes of the “fallen” woman, judgement, and justice in relation to these three “scriptures.” As we shall see, this short, short story contains references to a number of trials.

Lawful inexactitudes” also occur as willful errors in grammar and especially in the numbering of the verses, for in Hurston’s story the 15thverse is omitted. Somewhat more cryptic are the “lawful inexactitudes” that require the reader to realize that neither sweat nor mud come in hunks (verses 8 and 21), as the story relates. The text situates the reader in the same position as the jury is situated in the story; Hurston tells us that “the jury leaneth forward to catch every word which fell from her lips” (verse 46)and as in all such coded texts, this is meant literally, since listening is the key to the phonetic cabala of the alchemists.  

The absence of the fifteenth verse is a pointer. Given the biblical format and the subject of a trial, we are forced to question whether any of the fifteenth chapters of the Gospels refer to a trial? Yes, Mark gives his account of the trial of Jesus by Pilate in the fifteenth chapter. Pontius Pilate, the fifth Prefect of the Roman province of Judea, from AD 26–36, presided at the trial of Jesus. Despite stating that he personally found Jesus not guilty of a crime meriting death, Pilate pleases the “multitude,” by handing over Barabbas to them. In Mark 15:15 Pilate releases Jesus to be crucified. In her story Hurston’s character Miles Paige bears a phonetically-coded form of the  name Pilate (See note 11.). Hurston has pointed to this trial-within-a trial by leaving out the fifteenth verse of “Monkey Junk.”

     Hurston has emphasized the purposefulness of her omission by having selected the fifteenth verse, since Mark 15:28is not included in the earliest and best Greek manuscripts. Thus “Monkey Junk” imitates the handling of this dubious verse in some modern Bibles—as in the exclusion of the twenty-eighth verse in theNew Living Bible:  

Mark 15

27 Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.
29 The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days.

The KJV verse 28 which had been left out is:

     28 And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.

This verse relates back to KJV Isaiah 53:12:

Therefore will I divide him [a portion] with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intersession for the transgressors. (emphasis added).  

Thus Hurston has also pointed out a missing link between the Hebrew Scripture and Mark’s Gospel.

8. Objective Drama  

Hurston’s interest in placing the trial of Jesus in her story as a subtext is in keeping with the doctrines that A.R. Orage imparted to the New York group of Gurdjieff’s followers: as Orage had it, the teachings of Jesus were far more ancient than Jesus’s historical period, having been formulated in what Gurdjieff called pre-sand Egypt. According toOrage, the re-emergence of those teachings in the narrative of the New Testament was a work of “objective” art performed by the Essenes.       

    So far, we see that there is a divorce trial in the surface text of “Monkey Junk” and a trial in a subtext, the trial of Jesus indicated through the missing fifteenth verse. In addition to this relatively obscure biblical subtext, there is yet another subtext containing yet another trial with an Egyptian subtext that corresponds to the Gurdjieffian reading of Jesus’s trail as an esoteric event. The Egyptian subtext is directly related to the Gurdjieff Work, for The Oragean Version [10] opens with the argument that Egypt is the source of the Hidden Learning:  

   

The Hidden Learning has existed (as it exists today) at all times of which we know….  And once it even appeared with accustomed clarity in Public History itself, in the official religion of Ancient Egypt whose complexities are rendered only the more dubious by the anthropological naïveté of professional Egyptology but which shine with an almost unbelievable illumination when a few key principles of the Hidden Learning have been achieved. (King 4).

Orage stressed the centrality of this ancient Egyptian Hidden Learning:

About us, in the creeds, the sects and the distortions of modern Christianity lay the

fragments, of another work of Objective Art, the life of Christ, so it has been said.

According to that account the story of the Christ, a messenger of God upon this planet, was

and is Objective Drama, played not on a stage but in life by the Essene initiate, Jesus. This

play had its origin far earlier, in ancient Egypt, as the drama of the life, death and

resurrection of Ausar (Osiris), the God-in-Man; its function was to present ultimate human

truths through the medium of consciously acted roles.For centuries, we are told, the later

Essene brotherhood, a School itself deriving from Egyptian origins, had held the aim of

presenting this drama in life rather than as a prescribed mystery play and for generations

had trained its postulants to that end. Eventually the cast of thirteen was complete with

Jesus, who had been sent to Egypt for temple training there, cast as the leading actor and

Judas, who must play the next most difficult role, that of the betrayer, fully prepared for his

part. With the necessary modifications demanded by the local scene and times, the action

began.

It is difficult for us to appreciate the magnitude of such an undertaking. The

immediate audience is also without knowing it, the unconscious part of the cast and the

conscious actors must not only fulfill the requirements of their own roles, thereby

objectively demonstrating the truths they have self-selected themselves to manifest, but in

addition they must consciously and deliberately so affect their unconscious counterparts

(the priests and money-changers at the temple, Pontius Pilate, the Jewish mob, the Roman

soldiers, and all the rest) that the latter are forced to enact their own roles, too. Even with

all possible preparations made beforehand, it may well be imagined what hitches in the

performance unforeseen and unpredictable circumstances must threaten and what

consummate ability must be required in order to meet these difficulties and keep the drama

upon its course. No comparable type of acting, the playing so successfully of conscious

roles upon the objective stage of real life, has ever been reported. This was Objective Art.

(emphasis added; King 162-63)

9. Unjust Trials

The scheming woman in “Monkey Junk” is clearly “fallen,” and she prostitutes herself. But she is wrongly judged to be innocent even though it is clear that the wife has been unfaithful to the aggrieved husband. In verse 14, Hurston mentions the horns of adultery:

    “… other men posed the tongue into the cheek and snickered behind the handas he passed,

    saying, “Verily his head is decorated with the horns, he that is so wise and knoweth all the

    law and the profits” (emphasis added).

In the Tales, we find that among many other types of fallsof continents, of civilizations, of religion, and of learningthere is a long section on the degeneration of marriage in which a young Persian confesses to his vices. He has settled in Paris, where immoral women from all over Europe and other parts come “with the obvious intention of putting horns on their other legal halves” (Tales 990-94;emphasis added). Beelzebub finds them guilty.

The Biblical format of “Monkey Junk” will bring to mind Eve, the archetype of fallen woman. Eve is judged by God, and she is found guilty; as a consequence of Eve’s disobedience all mankind has been exiled from eternal life in Paradise into time, suffering, and death. Was this a just judgment? In the trial of Jesus of Nazareth by Pilate (and the judgment of “the multitude”), he is found guilty and so suffers a miscarriage of justice. We have seen that there is an Egyptian intertext in “Monkey Junk,” and there are several other unjust trials relating to the Egyptian Book of the Dead. In E. Wallace Budge’s Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection(1911), the God Set wants to inherit Osiris’s kingdom and so must usurp Horus, the rightful heir son of Osiris and Isis. Set accuses Isis of being a whore who has conceived Horus with another after Osiris’s death.  Therefore, Set argues, Horus is illegitimate and cannot inherit the throne of Egypt. However, the Gods find Isis innocent. In a second trial Set accused Osiris, but his accusations are unknown; Osiris is exonerated and triumphs over Set. (Budge 309-12)  Here the gods give the correct judgment. The Trial of Osiris by Thot after which Osiris is made god of the underworld plays a major role in Hurston’s story and will be discussed below. Once Osiris becomes the judge of the dead he presides over a court in which the dead have to plead perfection: as this is impossible, they must rely on the mercy of Osiris. Both Osiris and Christ were resurrected after death, and each of their teachings shows how time and death can be defeated; this was also Gurdjieff’s teaching, and the fall narrative of the Tales confirms this necessity

    An esoteric text uses a masking text to provide an outward premise. Hurston used the contemporary 1925 Scopes “Monkey Trial” (The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes) to give her story the title “Monkey Junk.” Since the Scopes trial was not a divorce, the fit between the Scopes trial and the fictional trial is not directly obvious, and the association of the trials as unjust trialsmay be thought of as another “lawful inexactitude” that points to the entire esoteric content of “Monkey Junk.” The reader in the 1920s may not immediately have seen how Hurston’s divorce trial related to the Scopes trial, and careful thought would have been required to reveal the connection through the common factor of injustice. In the Scopes trial a public school biology teacher was accused of illegally teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.  The prosecuting counsel, William Jennings Bryan, asked Scopes questions about Adam and Eve in relation to the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib, and in relation to her temptation by the serpent. “In his last words to the court, Scopes, the man who was reluctant from the start, said, “Your Honor, I feel that I have been convicted of violating an unjust statute. I will continue in the future … to oppose this law in any way I can. Any other action would be in violation of my idea of academic freedom’” (“The Scopes Monkey Trial).  This demand that the Bible be read attentively rather than literally relates to the necessity to read the Talesattentively, and Hurston makes the same demands of her reader in “Monkey Junk.”

10. The Scopes Monkey Trial    

The Scopes “Monkey Trial” was of great interest to the public, and it was especially of interest to anthropologists, in that it focused on the split between religious and scientific understandings of evolution. Although Scopes lost his case, his defending attorney demolished the prosecuting counsel by asking questions about Adam and Eve in order to demonstrate that belief in miracles and in the historicity of the Bible is unreasonable. Paul Beekman Taylor points out that in the TalesGurdjieff ridiculed the arguments of both the prosecution and the defense lawyer in the Scopes trial, when Beelzebub remarks to his grandson that evolution “was an American topic of interest. In a parable echoing the Biblical version of the fall of Eve, Beelzebub explained that apes are descended from humans” (Taylor 100).

Hurston’s two-word title “Monkey Junk” links Massey’s Egyptology, the Bible, Gurdjieff’s Tales, and the 1925 Scopes trial. The contemporary divorce trial in her story, like the modern inquisition of science, enacts a travesty in which superstition (for Gurdjieffians a form of “sleep”) triumphed over reason.  It is difficult not to see some racial connection being made to the monkeys in her story, but it remains to be worked out to what extent the levels of esotericism, irony, parody, and social protest can be discriminated.

11. Playing Roles

As we have seen, one aspect of the esoteric is the manipulation of reality. According to Orage, the most ambitious form of this activity was the intervention in history in connection with the story of Jesus Christ. This intervention took the form of conscious and unconscious roles acted in a public objective drama. One aspect of the divorce trial is that it depicts the activity of unconscious role playing, for the wife depicts herself in such a way that the finding is for her side of the case. That the wife’s role- playing is entirely given up to sex appeal is entirely in keeping with what Hurston learned from Gurdjieff, for Gurdjieff taught that sex is the driving force behind “sleep”:

[S]ex plays a tremendous role in maintaining the mechanicalness of life. Everything that people do is connected with ‘sex': politics, religion, art, the theater, music, is all ‘sex’. Do you think people go to the theater or to church to pray or to see some new play? That is only for the sake of appearances. The principal thing, in the theater as well as in church, is that there will be a lot of women or a lot of men. This is the center of gravity of all gatherings. What do you think brings people to cafés, to restaurants, to various fetes? One thing only. Sex: it is the principal motive force of all mechanicalness. All sleep, all hypnosis, depends upon it.” (Ouspensky 254)

Orage also taught pupils how to experiment with playing more conscious roles in their everyday lives than the automatic roles that they usually assumed:

The automatic roles which one plays in life automatically and unconsciously

are dictated by one’s falsely subjective image of oneself ….  [To] alter such roles consciously

and to attempt to play other roles, not on a stage but in life itself, is an extremely advanced

exercise in its final development but a beginning can be made at this stage. Of course there is

nothing “better” about the artificial role which the subject selects to attempt than about the

automatic one he has always been playing; the whole value of the exercise depends upon

the practice of a different, not a better impersonation. Here also we have a field in which

outside confirmation is both possible and required; the criterion of success is not the opinion

of the experimenter himself but is based upon his demonstrated ability to impress others

who are not involved in the experiment, with the validity of his impersonation.

(King 119-20).

This conscious assumption of roles was often referred to by Orage as “experiment.”Clearly esoteric “experiment” is generated by radically different assumptions about morality, truth, and freedom. In short, since the Gurdjieffians saw mankind as being asleep, they did not limit themselves to the social conventions of the sleepers. With this type of model in her mind, there is no wonder that many of Hurston’s critics point to Hurston’s tendency to dissemble. As Laura Grand-Jean has observed, “Throughout her life she lied about her age, her place of birth, and often times her identity. She cloaked herself in the garbs of the many different identities that she created for herself and recounted in her work(Mules and Menwebsite; emphasis added). This is seconded by Henry Louis Gates in his Afterword to Their Eyes Were Watching God: “Hurston did make up significant parts of herself, like a masquerade putting on a disguise for the ball, like a character in her fictions” (202). These discourses account for these effects as being related to matters of Hurston’s individual personality and not to any greater purpose or to a more general group strategy. A similar duplicity was evidenced by the careers of Melvin B. Tolson (a vexing and enigmatic “Marxist” poet who wrote transcendent, complex, intellectually dense poetry) and George Schuyler (“a literary schizophrenic who created a conservative public persona for himself while expressing extreme leftist views through the pseudonymous Samuel I. Brooks” and “a skillful role player, who [created] an array of masks for himself” [Gruesser 679]), two other African-American writers who are were unacknowledged followers of Gurdjieff and who were colleagues of Hurston’s. Similarly, authoritative accounts of Carl Van Vechten relate that he published six bestselling novels during a brief period of several years during which he is supposed to have been habitually drunk night and day and not to have slept at all (Kellner 165); Van Vechten’s behavior also seems to be a case of what Orage called “experiment” in which Van Vechten played the role of a wastrel.

Hurston and her Harlem Renaissance colleagues were but imitating Gurdjieff, who recounted stories about his selling dyed sparrows as rare birds, passing off cheap wines as rare vintages, or conning

Parisian merchants into giving him credit with stories of Texan oil wells. Gurdjieff was enacting

a morality that departed  from the “sleep”-based activities of ordinary people, and his

followers were enthusiastically imitating him to the best of their capacities.   

12. The Trial of Osiris by Thoth

        One of the curious features of “Monkey Junk” is the number of times bodily organs are mentioned in the story. The Egyptian intertext provides a solution to this question. Here is the description of the trial of Osiris in Gerald Massey’s Ancient Egypt:

The highest verdict rendered by the great judge in this most awful Judgment Hall was a testimony to the truth and purity of character established for the Manes [the spirit of the dead] on evidence that was unimpeachable. At this post-mortem the sins done in the body through violating the law of nature were probed for most profoundly. Not only was the deceased present in spirit to be judged at the dread tribunal, the book of the bodywas opened and its record read. The vital organs, such as the heart, liver, and lungs, were brought into judgment as witnesses to the life lived on earth.Any part too vitiated for the rottenness to be cut off or scraped away was condemned and flung as offal to the powers who are called the eaters of filth, the devourers of hearts, and drinkers of the blood of the wicked. And if the heart, for example, should be condemned to be devoured because very bad, the individual could not be reconstructed for a future life. (201-206; emphases added)

As the whole outcome of the trail in Hurston’s story depends on the speech of the accused being true speech, it is fitting that the list of organs and parts of the body commences with the mouth in the second verse of “Monkey Junk.” Thence follow liver (verse 4); heart, tongue, cheek, hand (verse 14); back, tongue (verse 16); tongue (verse 18); teeth (verse 20); hands, hip (verse 22); tongue (verse 26);  (kidneys verse 27); head (verse 35);   heart (verse 38); stiff-necked (verse 41); eyes (verse 43); lips (verse 46);  lips (verse 47);  mouth (verse 51), skin (verse 58); and nose (verse 59).

    Thus, there is yet another trial being conducted in “Monkey Junk”—and it is very likely to have been in Hurston’s mind the most important of the trials. Namely, the trial of Osiris by Thoth by which he was “Osirified” and became the lord of the underworld, seems to be the esoteric focus of Hurston’s story. The drama of the life, death and resurrection of Osiris (the Egyptian theme) was not only fundamental to Orage’s rendition of the Gurdjieff Work, it was a near obsession of Hurston’s. Hurston’s  most ambitious works of fiction (Seraph, Moses, Their Eyes) are suffused with Egyptian lore taken directly from Massey’s Ancient Egypt, and her most highly regarded novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is a covert retelling of the Osiris myth.  It is only the determination of Hurston’s critics to construct preordained feminist and socio-cultural interpretations of her writing that have caused them to assign whatever Egyptian influences have been noticed to a sort of non-specific Afrocentric interest on Hurston’s part: as a sort of culmination of these efforts, Patricia Hill Collins situates Hurston in an “Afrocentric feminist epistemology” (“Race”). But this Egyptian influence is intricately worked into her writings, so that many words, motifs, and symbols were derived from specifically Egyptian sources. Not only that but these materials were specifically taken from the writings of Gerald Masseyparticularly from Ancient Egypt. Massey, for his part, studied the extensive Egyptian holdings in the British Museum and was able to read Egyptian hieroglyphics.  So tied up with Massey’s volumes is Hurston’s fiction that without reference to Massey, there is essentially no means of discovering what Hurston is getting at. On the other hand, by means of a sound knowledge of Massey most of the difficulties that are presented by Hurston’s writing can be cleared up rather efficiently—though here we are speaking of difficulties that proceed from her esotericism, not those presently framed by her critics. (Since searchable versions of Massey’s books are now available on the Web, Hurston’s references to Massey are readily ascertainable.) Hurston had good reasons to depend on Massey for her Egpytology, for he was a Gnostic, an esotericist, and a powerfully imaginative thinker and researcher who traced the entirety of Christianity back to the Egyptian cult of Horus. The work of connecting Egypt to Christ had already been done by Massey in exhaustive detail. Thus Massey served as a storehouse for the detailed lore that supported the Oragean version of Christianity. Leaving nothing to chance, Hurston pointed the reader toward Massey by coding his name into the text of “Monkey Junk, with Gerald in verse 59 and Massey in verse 58.

Hurston unites Biblical and Egyptian references to terrible and finite ends in her penultimate verse:

    61. And he desisted. And after many days did he receive a letter saying “Go to the monkeys,

    thou hunk of mud and learn things and be wise. (emphasis added)

This puzzling end to her story becomes clearer if we recognize it to be, firstly, an allusion to the King James Version of the Bible’s Book of Proverbs, though the entire passage must be consulted to reveal the entire sense of Hurston’s passage. Hurston’s conclusion also echoes both Gurdjieff ‘s exhortation to “wake up,” and the references to body parts discussed above in relation to the trial of Osiris by Thoth.

   

6Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

 7Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,

 8Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

 9How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?

 10Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

 11So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.

 12A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth.

 13He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers;

 14Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord.

 15Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.

(KJV Proverbs 6:6-15)

Secondly, Massey’s discussion of “Sign-language and Mythology” states that:

    Again, the Monkey who is transformed into a man is a prototype of the Moon-God Taht, who is a     Dogheaded Ape in one character and a man in another” (Massey 1995,15).

The monkey can be the source of wisdom, since through this sign Hurston points to the Egyptian god Thot (Thoth), the inventor of writing, the developer of science, and the judge of the dead. In volume two of Ancient Egyptthe profound character of the wisdom of the “monkey” is made manifest, for Massey reveals that the Bible is synonymous with Egyptian scriptures, (Massey, vol.2, 1995,  903). The hellish judgement and sentence is passed in the final verse:  “62. And he returned unto Alabama to pick cotton. Selah.”

Conclusions  

In concluding, we will observe that the majority of research on Hurston’s writings continue to make self-fulfilling assumptions about Hurston and to proceed through circular and pre-conceived arguments and thereby does little to explicate Hurston’s texts meaningfully. For instance Hurston’s folk play “Cold Keener” presents a title that Alice Birney of the Library of Congress states “remains a mystery.” Birney then uses a concept of Hurston’s, “primitive angularity,” to explain why the play “with nine skits that are unrelated in their themes, characters, or even their settings” makes no discernible sense. The title uses the same code used in “Monkey Junk” and says “code key” (See note 11.): the play is esoteric and Hurston’s “primitive angularity” is an inadequate approach. While writing this paper we came across Miriam Thaggert’s Images of Black Modernism: Verbal and Visual Strategies of the Harlem Renaissance(2010). Attracted to Hurston’s provocative assertion that “the white man thinks in a written language and the Negro thinks in hieroglyphics” (Thaggert 2012, 48) in Hurston’s essay “The Characteristics of Negro Expression” (1934), Thaggert undertakes an analysis of Hurston’s “theories of black language” (Thaggert 2012, 47) with no basis for this discussion beyond what Hurston has said about black language. According to Cheryl Wall, Hurston’s “Characteristics” essay has become  “a protocol for reading Hurston’s novels”: Wall observes that “Many critics, including Henry Louis Gates Jr., Karla Holloway, and Lynda Hill have remarked on the intellectual boldness and the insightful brilliance of this essay (Wall 2005). Not only is Hurston’s “Characteristics” essay not anthropology in the first place, it is a parody of W.E B. Du Bois’s discussions of black culture in The Souls of Black Folk(1903) and in his later writings. Hurston took her title from a sentence in “Of the Faith of the Fathers: “The Negro church of to-day is the social centre of Negro life in the United States, and the most characteristic expression of African character” (191). The thesis of Hurston’s essay comes from a statement by Du Bois that “The Negro is essentially dramatic,” (Lorini 2001, 167), and Hurston’s “Characteristics” can in part be understood as a send-up of Du Boisian pomposity. Thus Hurston is fundamentally poised to deceive her trusting, sleeping reader. Even in a brief, early piece like “Monkey Junk” Hurston’s concerns are complex, being synthesized from anthropology, Massey’s long and dense discussion in “Sign-language and Mythology,” the Bible, the esoteric ideas of Orage, and the perplexing text of Gurdjieff’s Tales. Thus scholarship on Hurston is years away from a comprehensive understanding of Hurston’s theories of language and of her literary texts.

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ENDNOTES

1] The full title of G.I.Gurdjieff’s text was Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson or AnObjectively Impartial Criticism of the Life of Man, and it was the firstvolume of his All and Everythingtrilogy. The All andEverything trilogy also includes Meetings with Remarkable Men (firstpublished in 1963) and Life Is Real Only Then, When ‘I Am’ (first privately printedin 1974).

[2] Blind WillieMcTell (William Samuel McTier) began to sing “A Married Man’s a Fool” about1920. As this is a folk song, its distribution cannot be specified.

“A Married Man’s a Fool”

Had a friend, Louie Brown, he was a deacon
Just as wise as he could be
Now I realized he could read the good book
Back from revelations down to genesis
You know last Sunday morning we was over to the church
My buddy wants to take him a stand
And he looks out upon that whole congregation
The good book in his hand

Now he cast his eye about, and then he looks over in the amen corner
All the sisters commenced to shout [What’d he say? ]
He said a married mans a fool to think that his wife love nobody else but him
She stick by you all your life the chances is mighty slim
Now you read the good book, chapter twenty-one:
Every married woman got to have a little fun
Read on over chapter twenty-two:
Its a sin to let that woman make a fool outta you
Now you read a little further, chapter twenty-three:
She two-time you, brother, like she double-crossed me
Read on back, over chapter ten:
She shimmy one time, you got the problem again
cause a married mans a fool to think that his wife
Loves nobody else but him, I mean, loves nobody else but him

Well, a married mans a fool to think that his wife
Loves nobody else but him
She stands by you all your life the chances is mighty and slim
Now you read on over twenty-fifth page:
Married womens, lord, is hard to engage
Read kinda careful, chapter twenty-six:
Back door slamming you got to learn to get it fixed
Read on out, chapter twenty-eight:
Who’s that back slidin out through the back gate ?
I believe I’ll close on chapter twenty-nine:
Woman get tired of the same man all the time
cause a married mans fool to think that his wife love nobody else but him

 

[3] In 1926 these texts werepublished: Wallace Thurman, Fire!!; Carl Van Vechten, Nigger Heaven;Eric Walrond, Tropic Death, and these works marked the manifesto phaseof Harlem literary esotericism. Van Vechten’s novels were the models for theHarlem group’s novels. Two of their esoteric novels followed in 1928— RudolphFisher’s The Walls of Jericho; Nella Larsen’s Quicksand.  1929 brought two more novels from the Harlemgroup —Nella Larsen’s, Passing and Wallace Thurman’s The Blacker theBerry. In 1931 George S. Schuyler brought out Black No More. 1932saw the publication of Rudolph Fisher’s, The Conjure Man Dies andWallace Thurman’s Infants of the Spring. Thus seven novels were writtenand published by members of the Harlem group between 1926, when the esoteric publishingprogram was initiated, and 1932, a notable literary achievement.

[4] See Tom Hodd.

[5] As an example of Van Vechten’shandling of esoteric coding (see note 11), there is an extraordinary passagetowards the conclusion of Nigger Heaven. It is related that when patronswho appear to be wealthy arrive at a particular Harlem restaurant they aregreeted as “Mr. Gunnion” (241). This rude and intolerable handling of patrons couldnot have taken place, and it is clearly a “lawful inexactitude” meant toindicate that there is esoteric content in the passage. Since Gurdjieff wascommonly referred to by his followers as “Mr. G.” and since the goal of histeaching was to produce unity in the self (“one ‘I’”), the name “Mr. Gunnion”(Mr. G.—union) is a transparent indication of Van Vechten’s interest in theteachings of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff.

[6] Thissuggestion is supported by the word “alchemy” (90) and by the codedpresentation of Fulcanelli’s name  (90) inDjuna Barnes’s novel, Nightwood, —again, a poorly understood modern textwhich is Gurdjieffian (and Oragean) and extensively coded in cabala though notcritically categorized as being esoteric, despite Barnes’s association with aParis Gurdjieff group (see Rauve 53). The Orageanliterary code is a curious apparatus in a number of ways. It is a variation ofthe traditional alchemical cabala code. Speaking of the cabalaGleb Butuzov states that “the phrases, read aloud must be understood not justin the sense they have on paper, but also in that elusive sense they acquire onbeing ‘misheard’ (where, in common speech, we would ask our interlocutor torepeat the sentence, because we had heard something that seemed to beinappropriate to the context of the conversation). This second – reallyesoteric – meaning is often irrelevant to the first, and people who neglectthis level of the information–exchange actually read a very different book.”

[7] For her part, Hurston wastremendously fond of Van Vechten. “If Carl was a people instead of a person,”Hurston once said to Fannie Hurst, “I could then say, these are my people” (Hurst 19). Van Vechten’s copy of Hurston’s novel Jonah’sGourd Vine bears the inscription, “For Carl Van Vechten who blows the slidetrombone in the same band with Ol’ Gabr’el.”  (Hurston “Hurston to VanVechten”).

[8]See Welch 31; Taylor 71-2.

[9] Gerald Massey held an Egypt-centric position about the origin of the world’s early advancedcultures that he argued through a scholarly comparative analysis of language, names, and mythology.

[10] The Oragean Versionis the title of an unpublished manuscript by C. Daly King. He compiled thismanuscript during the nineteen twenties in New York to record the teaching ofAlfred Orage.

[11] Unlike a crosswordpuzzle, the coded text does not directly betray its presence. It shows itselfonly through some anomaly. Since anomalies do not necessarily suggest that theyare connected to puzzles, they often go unnoticed. In “Monkey Junk” one chiefanomaly is that Miles Paige is the only name attributed to a character, and heis the lawyer for the defendant. Thus there is no discernible reason for him tohave a name while the major players are nameless. By the rules of the Orageanliterary code Miles Paige has been marked as being of particular interest andthe name represents some other meaning.

The rulesof the phonetic code are simple but since they are not habitual, it isdifficult to work out what they are hiding. One clue has been provided—theproximity of Miles Paige to the word “multitude.” Once the solution has beenarrived at, the surrounding text points to the solution so as to confirm it.The verse where Miles Paige first appears reads as follows: “55. Thendid the multitude rejoice and say ‘Great is Miles Paige, and mighty isthe judge and jury.’” For Hurston’s the purpose, this was equivalent toMat 27:24—“When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but [that] rather atumult was made, he took water, and washed [his] hands before the multitude,saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye [to it].” Thisis not to say that this clarifies the matter since there are other allusionsand particularly since Miles Paige is not only associated with Pilate but withJesus. But the mainstay of the code it phonetic and the sounds of“Pilate” must be heard inside of “Miles Paige”:

Miles Paige

            P

 il

             a

                [t]e

The objections to reading “MilesPaige” as “Pilate“ are as follows: M, e s, and I are remaindered and have to beignored. There is no t.  g is a poorsubstitute for t.  One word is made outof letters in two words. The beginning of the word is in the second word.

In answer it can be suggested thatthis is a code, and the solution is hidden by the extra letters and by the useof two words. Pilate has but one name and Americans have two names, so the useof two words was unavoidable; the deferral of the initial letter to the secondword is one of the rules for the code and has to be worked out over manyexamples: for example, Dust Tracks on a Road (the title of Hurston’sautobiography) reads as “trust code” by adding the tr of the second wordto the ust of the initial word. Only a few consonants (d,b, etc.) mightbe substituted for t, and the writer still has to make an English word fromwhatever is used.

 

Once the logic of the method has beengrasped, it is still difficult to know exactly where to draw the interpretiveline. Most inclusions, as with Massey’s name, are merely the names of theesoteric teachers of the writer, so that “Monkey Junk” also presents the namesOrage (verses 42 bear, 43 jury judge—compare to verse 48),Gurdjieff (verses 10 chaff; 28,59 ger), and King (verse 25 making), and these names are found in most ofHursrton’s texts as well as those of many other writers influenced by Orage.Massey’s name is original to “Monkey Junk,” so its inclusion is particularlyinteresting.

Monkey Junk”—Zora Neale Hurston’s Experiment in Oragean Modernism


Sophia Wellbeloved and Jon Woodson

Monkey Junk”— Zora Neale Hurston’s Experiment in Oragean Modernism   

Abstract

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A.R. Orage’s literary celebrity attracted a large following among the New York intellectuals of the 1920s including the Harlem Renaissance. He gave creative writing workshops and lectured on Gurdjieff’s esotericism, gradually forming his own version—Oragean Modernism. According to Gurdjieff, objective art is the only art that has value, and Zora Neale Hurston and other Harlem writers were engaged in the quest for objective art. Orage’s writing groups performed the contradictory functions of disseminating Gurdjieff’s ideas into society with the hope of raising the number of people belonging to the circle of conscious humanity, while at the same time preserving the teachings by placing them in a coded form in widely distributed popular texts. Hurston’s story, F was an attempt both to spread the Gurdjieffian teaching through objective art and to make sure that esoteric ideas would survive the collapse of the present form of civilization. In this story Hurston’s concerns are complex, being synthesized from anthropological research, the Bible, Orage’s teachings, and the literary model of Gurdjieff’s Tales.

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1. Oragean Modernism

      Alfred Richard Orage, (1873 – 1934) began his professional life as a charismatic intellectual school teacher who lectured and wrote variously on Plato, Nietzsche, Theosophy, and psychoanalysis. His political interests included Fabian Socialism and monetary reform. He co-founded the Leeds Art Club, which became a center for modernist culture in pre-World War I England (Webb 200). Orage’s interests and concerns included personal and political well-being, eventually extending to a concern for cosmological and planetary well-being that would profoundly influence his pupils in New York. In 1916 he moved to London, where he edited the influential literary weekly The New Age, publishing G. K. Chesterton, H. G. Wells, Bernard Shaw, Katherine Mansfield, and others including Ezra Pound with whom he wrote several issues of The New Age. During that phase of his life, he was considered by T. S. Eliot “the finest critical intelligence of our age” (Taylor 16).  However, in October 1922, having heard the Greek-Armenian guru George Ivanovich Gurdjieff give a talk in London, Orage left The New Age and England to work with Gurdjieff at his “Institute For the Harmonious Development of Man” in France.

    Gurdjieff (1886?-1949) offered a teaching that was a blend of Theosophy, a variety of predominantly Western esoteric sources, and hypnotism and other therapeutic practices. He used a methodology composed of practical work on the self and sacred dancing, along with alchemical, psychological, and cosmological theory, to “wake up” and develop human beings whom he defined as sleeping, hypnotized machines with no central “I” or soul. Orage remained a practitioner and assiduous disseminator of Gurdjieff’s teaching, known as the Work (and in America also as the Method), for the next ten years.

    When Orage arrived in New York in December 1923, fourteen months after leaving England for the Institute, he set about raising funds and arousing interest in the teaching. Gurdjieff himself arrived a month later in January 1924 for a highly publicized visit, during which he gave talks and demonstrations of his sacred dances in New York, Boston and Chicago. Orage’s literary celebrity attracted a large following among the New York intellectuals of the 1920s. He gave creative writing workshops, and lectured on Gurdjieff’s teaching, gradually emphasizing and moderating elements of the teaching to form his own version of it that differed from the Work as taught by Gurdjieff in Europe.  Orage’s modernism was imbued by Gurdjieff’s esotericism, and both elements were embraced by his pupils.

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2. Esotericism — the Tales and Objective Works of Art

    Beginning in 1925, Orage became the principal editor of the first volume of Gurdjieff’s three volume work known as Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson (Tales),and his continuing process of editing and interpreting the chapters as they arrived from France over the next four years was shared with his American pupils (Driscoll 3) and also with other pupils in France. The book became central to Orage’s teaching, especially of his Gurdjieff study groups, such as the Harlem group, led by Orage with the assistance of  poet and novelist Jean Toomer and psychologist and mystery-writer C. Daly King.

    The epic narrative of the Tales takes place during a voyage on a spaceship. Beelzebub tells his grandson of his own exile to our solar system, the creation of Earth, the multiple Gnostic Falls, the failures of men and their worsening state, the only remedy for which is remembrance of death.

Gurdjieff meant his reader or listener, the text was often read aloud, to be confused by the complex sentence structure of the Tales,by its many anomalies, contradictions, inconsistencies, and by the acknowledged deceptions within the narrative (See Wellbeloved 2002, 77-83). Gurdjieff warned his reader that he was unique in respect to “muddling and befuddling, the notions and convictions of everyone he comes into contact with” (Tales 26). Published posthumously in 1949, the book has 1238 pages, all of which he had intentionally made difficult to understand.  The text includes his reading instructions, but these are in themselves contradictory and so are impossible to follow. Gurdjieff said he had “buried” a secret that readers should search for, and gives an apparent clue as to how the secret was buried. He describes how a questioning attention can be drawn to decode a secret message by what he terms a “lawful inexactitude.” The secret is pointed to by placing something “out of place” or in the wrong scale, for example an otherwise perfectly proportioned sculpture might have hands that are far too big (Tales 461). The law in question in “lawful inexactitude” is the Law of Seven, a series of descending vibrations that represents the inevitably destructive nature of time (Webb 503; 40; 141-42). This has led his many readers to search through multiple readings for the one “lawful inexactitude” that might reveal Gurdjieff’s secret. Orage himself was convinced there was a specific secret that Gurdjieff was withholding from him, and the members of his groups also engaged in this search.

    The Harlem writers, along with the other pupils, believed the Tales to be an objective work of art.  According to Gurdjieff, objective art is the only form of art that has value. Its meaning cannot be mistaken, whereas subjective art made by “mechanical man” can be misunderstood. However, to understand objective art a person must have “at least flashes of objective consciousness” (Ouspensky  298; also see Wellbeloved 11). So, searching alone is not the way to find objective meaning in an objective work of art; this can only be found by raising the level of consciousness, becoming “an initiate of art.”  

    While the demand to make or write an objective work of art may have inhibited readers and writers immediately within Gurdjieff’s influence, this was clearly not the case with Orage’s group of writers who were intent on writing their own objective works of art (Woodson 9-10). They also related his teaching to Objective Drama as expounded by Orage together with Gurdjieff’s teaching on the necessity to play roles (Webb 537-41). Orage emphasized the central place of esotericists in the world especially in relation to evolution. The evolution or self-perfecting of individuals was said to be necessary also for the safe evolution of the planet. If there were not a sufficient number of evolved people within a certain time frame, the planet could be destroyed. Ideas of specially evolved members of a “conscious circle of humanity” were in accord with contemporary notions that extended Darwinian evolution to describe a Nietzschean evolution of man into a super-race. Gurdjieff’s teaching echoed that of Blavatsky’s specially evolved “Masters.” Orage’s writing groups performed the contradictory functions of disseminating Gurdjieff’s ideas into society with the hope of raising the number of people belonging to the circle of conscious humanity, while at the same time preserving the teachings by placing them in a coded form in widely distributed popular texts.   

    Thus Zora Neale Hurston’s short story, “Monkey Junk: A Satire on Modern Divorce,” was one of those attempts both to spread the Gurdjieffian teaching and to make sure that the ideas would survive the collapse of the present form of civilization. In order to serve in this capacity, the story sets out to entertain the reader, while also containing a highly concentrated hidden content. “Monkey Junk” entertains by performing a satirical treatment of the flapper phenomenon under the guise of being a satire on marriage, the flapper and marriage themes being treated through a comic parody of the Bible. The story exhibits little concern with marriage or divorce, and the depiction of the wife through French garters (verse 29) and silk stockings (verse 45) establishes that the wife was a flapper; the wife’s casual treatment of sex (verses 13, 14, 33, 39) also establishes her identity as a flapper. Dorothy Parker’s satirical depiction of the flapper in her poem “The Flapper” (published in Lifein 1922) parallels the wife’s treatment of the husband in “Monkey Junk”: the poem’s concluding couplet states “Her golden rule is plain enough / Just get them young and treat them rough” (Parker 113-14). Parker’s use of the Bible barely registers, though her reference to the golden rule relates to a specific verse, Matthew 7:12,

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (KJV). Hurston’s story is written in a parody of Biblical verses, and she refers to Matthew 7:12 directly in the first verse as “he knew all the law and the prophets” and in verse 14 with the mockery of “he that is so wise and knoweth all the law and the profits.” The passage occurs a third time in verse 25 of Hurston’s story:

25.“Thou art very dumb for nowthat I, thy husband, knoweth that thou art a flirt, making glad the heart of back-biters, I shall support thee no more—for verily know I ALL the law and the profits thereof.” (Emphasis added)

Not only must the reader conclude that Hurston has intentionally emphasized Matthew 7:12, but that when the word “now” appears instead of “know” that this also is intentional. Hurston has engaged the phonetic level of language, and prophet/profitand know/nowactively point to this altered interpretive convention.

While directly humorous treatments of the Bible were rare in the 1920s, we may see Hurston’s treatment of religion as being in step with the writings of Sinclair Lewis and H.L. Menken: Menken’s “nihilistic criticism of American culture—literature, politics and religionmade him among the most hated and admired men in America” (emphasis added; Cheatham “Provincial America in the 1920s”). Hurston’s blasphemy is moderated, because she has cast the language of the Bible into the black sociolect of the 1920s. Blind Willie McTell’s ragtime lyric “A Married Man’s a Fool” incorporates a similar parody of the Bible, though unlike the text of “Monkey Junk” it lacks a frame. Hurston’s derisory treatment of the Bible is further made complex by the fact that she placed her story in a black newspaper, The Pittsburgh Courier,tacitly the national news organ for the black Americans of that era. The implication of the folk-parody approach is that the popular understanding and practice of the Christian religion is itself a parody of a more authentic version of the religion.

Hurston includes direct and indirect references to the Bible, which she knew would have been recognized by her readers. At the same time her exploitation of the Bible’s familiarity worked against the expectations of her readers, since Hurston’s use of these references is consistently ironic. Among others we find:

Then did he make a joyful noise saying, “Behold, I have chosen a wife, yea verily a maiden Ihave exalted above all others, for see I have wed her.” (“Monkey Junk” verse 5; emphases added)

A joyful noise” is made by the Psalmist in Psalms 95:1 and 98:4; while the maiden with the attribute of “exalted above all others” is referred to within Catholicism as Mary Mother of God.

And he gave praises loudly unto the Lord saying, “I thank thee that I am not as other men.”

refers to Luke 18:11:

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as

other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

In Matthew 13:45-46 the Kingdom of heaven is like a pearl of great price, for which a rich merchant sells all he has; in Hurston’s verse 13 the pearl refers to a woman who sells herself.   

    Then did his pearl of great price form the acquaintance of many men and they prospered her.

    It is difficult to assess the practical application of the Harlem group to the whole of Gurdjieff’s teaching, but in relation to their own writings all of them employed “inexactitudes,” in order to draw attention to Gurdjieff’s book and his teaching. Whereas Gurdjieff gives the visual example of a dis-proportioned sculpture in the Tales (Gurdjieff 1950 477), the participating writers of the Harlem group, Zora Neale Hurston, George Schuyler, Nella Larsen, Gwendolyn Bennett, Eric Walrond, Richard Bruce Nugent, Rudolph Fisher, Wallace Thurman, and Melvin B. Tolson began to look for ways to include unexpected insertions, absurdities, or apparent errors that might point to concealed texts within their texts that would lead readers to Gurdjieff’s book and to his teaching. Thus the Harlem group, believing that they had little time to save the world from destruction, operated at a high level of anxiety. The eschatological fixations of the Oragean Modernists drove them to create a considerable body of published writing in a very short time.

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3. Gurdjieff and Literature

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    Gurdjieff spent much time writing in Parisian cafés and so was not isolated from the cultural milieu of 1920s and 1930s Paris, a center for European esotericists and American writers. The conflation of these two groups can be seen in modernist interest in the occult, esotericism, and myth. Gurdjieff’s institute attracted many literary figures, and Gurdjieff himself collected an influential group of writers willing to translate and to edit his writings. Although Gurdjieff insists that the Talesis not a literary work, he was aware of modernist literary interest in myth, esotericism, and the desire for immaterial values that pervaded the inter-war years.

    Prominent literary pupils of Gurdjieff are well known in the Work, via the lists of participants in books by Louise Welch, James Webb, and Paul Beekman Taylor. For example, in the 1910s and 1920s, The Little Review—published in Greenwich Village from 1917 to 1929—was the most influential literary magazine in the world. It was the first to publish a chapter of James Joyce’s Ulysses, for which the editors, Jane Heap and Margaret Anderson were tried for obscenity. The editors became followers of Gurdjieff in 1924 after meeting him in New York and spending the summer at his Institute in France (Webb 276-285). Despite the centrality of Oragean Modernism to the creation and dissemination of modernist culture, the Gurdjieffian project is maligned and castigated when it is noticed, as in this discussion by Kristin M. Mabel Bloomberg:

Another notorious guru was the Russian mystic and dancemaster George Ivanovitch

Gurdjieff who turned from the idealistic tenets of Theosophy to a philosophy

of “barbarism and primitivism” (170) that highlighted the ideology of man as

the noble savage and encouraged its students to become conscious of their

true selves and to cease being human machines. For Gurdjieff, this practice

could not be a pleasant one, and the process was “enhanced” with an emphasis

on stress, pain, tension, and conflict. Gurdjieff ’s philosophy is one that is

linked explicitly by Peter Washington in Madame Blavatsky’s Baboon to the

Left Bank lesbian expatriate circle that included Jane Heap, Margaret Anderson,

Djuna Barnes, and Janet Flanner (288). Gurdjieff ’s ideals also surface in

Harlem, with Thadious Davis linking a study group led by Gurdjieff disciple

Jean Toomer to writers including Nella Larsen. (24-5)

4. Hurston’s Esoteric Content

Zora Neale Hurston was a prominent figure in the Harlem Renaissance, and studies of the movement describe her as a participant in Jean Toomer’s Gurdjieff groups (see Woodson 147-70). In the 1920s Hurston was in New York studying anthropology with Franz Boas at Columbia University, and during that period she came into contact with such important white cultural figures as Carl Van Vechten, Fannie Hurst, C. Daly King, her patron Charlotte Osgood Mason, and A.R. Orage who presided over the New York Gurdjieff groups. Orage organized writing seminars that attracted many important writers, and for many members of the Harlem group of writers the Harlem Renaissance was a subset of this wider, esoteric literary movement. Orage’s influence on these groups of writers has been acknowledged by writers on esotericism but not by mainstream scholars of literature. Academic adherents of American Studies routinely frames Oragean Modernists figures as nationalists, so that the esoteric content of the works produced by these figures has not previously been realized. It is not only Hurston who has been evaluated without reference to these fundamental components. Such writers as Djuna Barnes, Dawn Powell, C. Daly King, Carl Van Vechten, and James Agee have introduced into their writings the same esoteric elements (phonetic codes, roman a clef of esotericists, intentional mistakes, and esoteric vocabulary) as Hurston used in her texts. Hurston’s participation in the Harlem Renaissance and her affiliation with Toomer, Orage, C. Daly King, and Van Vechten turned her to esoteric influences that are evident in her writings once they are read with attention to this aspect. The esoteric content within Zora Neal Hurston’s writings is consistent from “Monkey Junk” (1927) to her incomplete novel, “Herod,” (snatched from a fire after her death in 1964). It is only through the well-documented disinterest of literary scholars in occultism that there are such consistent misreadings of Hurston. Hurston’s texts make it clear that their many anomalies are signs of a coded, esoteric level. Hurston’s critics have detected this esoteric level but have explained it away by portraying Hurston as an eccentric. For example, on her Mules and Menwebsite Laura Grand-Jean states that “More than anything Zora Neale Hurston was the worlds greatest liar and her own duplicity explains why for so long she was lost to us”  (Grand-Jean “Introduction”).

It is likely that Hurston absorbed the system of esoteric literary coding from her close associate Carl Van Vechten. Van Vechten, a best-selling novelist in the 1920s, is acknowledged to have been vital to the publishing of Harlem Renaissance texts, and he befriended the Harlem writers. Moreover, there is a direct literary influence from Van Vechten on Nella Larsen who stated that Van Vechten’s novel, Nigger Heaven (1926)was one of the big influences on Harlem and its artistic life (Davis 212). Moreover, Thadious Davis states that when Larsen was writing her first novel, Quicksand (1928), she ceased writing, read Nigger Heaven, and then after destroying a good half of what was completed, returned to work on her novel keeping Nigger Heaven as a stylistic model (Davis 212). This account does not specify what is meant by matters of style. Since literary scholars do not recognize that Van Vechten was himself a follower of Gurdjieff or that Nigger Heavenis an esoteric text, their assessment of its influence on Larsen (and on Hurston) is incomplete. The code used by Van Vechten and the other writers in the Gurdjieff camp was the phonetic cabala, the traditional code used by the writers of alchemical texts since the fourteenth century. (Research on the use of codes in Oragean Modernism is at a preliminary stage, and more papers will follow.) At about the same time as Van Vechten began to write his novels in the cabala, Fulcanelli’s Le Mystère des Cathédrales(1926) was published making the delineation of the alchemical code available to a wide audience. But as Van Vechten moved in Parisian artistic circles, he and his American associates may have had access to early copies of the Fulcanelli book or even direct access to Fulcanelli.

5. Hurston, C. Daly King, and Van Vechten

Hurston’s reverence for Carl Van Vechten has long been remarked. They met when she was working as a secretary for the writer Fannie Hurst. They liked each other instantly and shared a close friendship thereafter. But this association has dismayed Hurston’s scholars and has not stimulated them to make a close exploration of the literary consequences of their friendship: Van Vechten is seldom dealt with by scholars of the Harlem Renaissance writers and only insofar as his novel, Nigger Heaven, is found by them to be inescapable. Major treatments of the Harlem Renaissance (Amritjit Singh, Theodore Francis) make no mention of Van Vechten’s other novels, though Thadious Davis’s biography of Nella Larsen establishes that Larsen read Van Vechten’s Peter Wiffle(1922) and that by 1929 he was one of her favorite authors (Davis 165). Yet, Van Vechten was a prolific best-selling novelist, and his novels were the models for some of the Harlem Renaissance writers. More to the point, some of Van Vechten’s novels concern themselves with esoteric material, and Firecrackers(1925) is a thinly veiled presentation of A.R Orage’s organizing of the New York branch of G. I. Gurdjieff’s “Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man.” Beneath the roman a clef, Van Vechten’s Firecrackersis more deeply coded using the cabala cipher.

In Firecrackers, Van Vecthen’s fourth novel, a character clearly based on Muriel Draper organizes Pinchon’s Prophylactic Plan, a school of self-development based on Ouspensky, Arthur E. Waite, Gurdjieff, Jaques-Dalcroze, and Einstein (175), so that Van Vechten cannot actually be said to have removed his fictional school very far from the actualities of Orage’s school. The list in the novel presents only Jaques-Dalcroze and Einstein as red herrings—though the former was, like Gurdjieff, a teacher of therapeutic dance and there is a great deal about science in the Tales. Van Vechten’s character, Miss Pinchon, the organizer of the fictional school, was based on New York saloniste and interior decorator Muriel Draper. Draper was a close associate of both Van Vechten and Orage. In fact, Draper was responsible for the running of the New York branch of Gurdjieff’s Institute, thus allowing A. R. Orage the freedom to organize an extensive movement that maintained an influential literary component.

    C. Daly King is another important influence on Hurston who has not been taken into account by Hurston scholars: he studied at Columbia University during the period of Hurston’s anthropology studies at that school. King wrote the “Obelist” series of detective novels, novels that are esoteric, written in code, and contain characters based on Jean Toomer and other Gurdjieffians; the word “obelist” is a variant of obelisk, a character used in ancient manuscripts to indicate spurious passages, so that the very titles of King’s novels declare their duplicity. It is of central importance that King compiled Orage’s teachings into The Oragean Version (unpublished, 1951), a widely circulated volume which contains the essential esoteric doctrines on which Hurston based her fictions.

6. “Monkey Junk; A Satire on Modern Divorce”   

Monkey Junk” is contained in faux-Biblical verses numbered from 1 – 62, but the alert reader encounters a number of anomalies, or what we are calling “lawful inexactitudes.” The first evidence of “lawful inexactitude” is Hurston’s question-provoking use of a title apparently unrelated to her story about a rich man who, imagining that he understands women, marries a wife who only wants his money, for it is not apparent that the words monkey junkconnote anything about divorce. When the husband doesn’t give his wife enough money, she turns to other men, and he is scorned for being a cuckold. The central action of the story is a trial in which due to her sex appeal and tears she is unjustly granted alimony. Her husband threatens her with violence, but she is scornful, and he returns to Alabama to pick cotton.

The titleMonkey Junk” reflects Hurston’s dependenceon self-educated, nineteenth century  Egyptologist Gerald Massey. In Massey’s Ancient Egypt, the light of the world, on page 889 he has a footnote that reads “The Ankh-key of life.” This corresponds phonetically to “monkey” in the title of Hurston’s story, and it gives the meaning of Hurston’s strange construction. Massey explains the word Ank as meaning “the living one,” in A Book of The Beginnings(209), and he connects the title of “the god Tum in Pithom as being the Ankh, the living; he being the sun of the resurrection; written in Egyptian … as P-ankh, Punk, or Punch.” Massey goes on:

 Punch and Nuk have their correlatives in Hunch, Bunch, and Junk. Punch means the short, fat, pudgy, thick-set fellow, whence the puncheon. So in the Xhosa and Zulu Kaffir dialects a short thickset pudge of a person is called isi-Tupana from tupa, the thumb. The “hunch” of bread is a thick lump; the junkis also a short thick lump (Massey 2007, 209; emphases added).

    Massey connects the English language to the Egyptian language in a manner that is original to Massey, so that it is clear that Massey is Hurston’s source for these inclusions.  It is also clear that Hurston has followed Massey’s disclosures, for the story emphasizes words that Massey has interpolated from “ankh” (“Monkey” [onk]) into the English words “hunk” (verses 20, 61) and “junk” (title).Furthermore,junk” was 1920s slang for opium, the drug that induces sleep, the condition that Orage was teaching his followers precludes possession of a soul and so leads to death unless a person “wakes up.” Because it was such a powerful metaphor for sleep, Gurdjieff inserted thirty-two references to opium into the Tales (see Anon, Guide & Index, 431), some of them extended: opium as a drug, as a civil evil, a religious doctrine formed to combat the use of it, its culture, and scientific inquiry into its chemical constituents.

8. The Verses: biblical lawful inexactitudes?

The biblical verse form used in “Monkey Junk” immediately suggests a biblical content or a biblical reading of the wife’s story, but there are also indirect references to the Egyptian Book of the Dead, to Gerald Massey’s writings, and to Gurdjieff’s parody of the judgement of the dead by “Mister” God in an invented religion (Tales 217-18) in Beelzebub’s Tales. The narrative of a trial, which results in an unjust judgement, allows Hurston to explore themes of the “fallen” woman, judgement, and justice in relation to these three “scriptures.” As we shall see, this short, short story contains references to a number of trials.

Lawful inexactitudes” also occur as willful errors in grammar and especially in the numbering of the verses, for in Hurston’s story the 15thverse is omitted. Somewhat more cryptic are the “lawful inexactitudes” that require the reader to realize that neither sweat nor mud come in hunks (verses 8 and 21), as the story relates. The text situates the reader in the same position as the jury is situated in the story; Hurston tells us that “the jury leaneth forward to catch every word which fell from her lips” (verse 46)and as in all such coded texts, this is meant literally, since listening is the key to the phonetic cabala of the alchemists.  

The absence of the fifteenth verse is a pointer. Given the biblical format and the subject of a trial, we are forced to question whether any of the fifteenth chapters of the Gospels refer to a trial? Yes, Mark gives his account of the trial of Jesus by Pilate in the fifteenth chapter. Pontius Pilate, the fifth Prefect of the Roman province of Judea, from AD 26–36, presided at the trial of Jesus. Despite stating that he personally found Jesus not guilty of a crime meriting death, Pilate pleases the “multitude,” by handing over Barabbas to them. In Mark 15:15 Pilate releases Jesus to be crucified. In her story Hurston’s character Miles Paige bears a phonetically-coded form of the  name Pilate (See note 11.). Hurston has pointed to this trial-within-a trial by leaving out the fifteenth verse of “Monkey Junk.”

     Hurston has emphasized the purposefulness of her omission by having selected the fifteenth verse, since Mark 15:28is not included in the earliest and best Greek manuscripts. Thus “Monkey Junk” imitates the handling of this dubious verse in some modern Bibles—as in the exclusion of the twenty-eighth verse in theNew Living Bible:  

Mark 15

27 Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.
29 The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days.

The KJV verse 28 which had been left out is:

     28 And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.

This verse relates back to KJV Isaiah 53:12:

Therefore will I divide him [a portion] with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intersession for the transgressors. (emphasis added).  

Thus Hurston has also pointed out a missing link between the Hebrew Scripture and Mark’s Gospel.

7. Objective Drama  

Hurston’s interest in placing the trial of Jesus in her story as a subtext is in keeping with the doctrines that A.R. Orage imparted to the New York group of Gurdjieff’s followers: as Orage had it, the teachings of Jesus were far more ancient than Jesus’s historical period, having been formulated in what Gurdjieff called pre-sand Egypt. According toOrage, the re-emergence of those teachings in the narrative of the New Testament was a work of “objective” art performed by the Essenes.       

    So far, we see that there is a divorce trial in the surface text of “Monkey Junk” and a trial in a subtext, the trial of Jesus indicated through the missing fifteenth verse. In addition to this relatively obscure biblical subtext, there is yet another subtext containing yet another trial with an Egyptian subtext that corresponds to the Gurdjieffian reading of Jesus’s trail as an esoteric event. The Egyptian subtext is directly related to the Gurdjieff Work, for The Oragean Version opens with the argument that Egypt is the source of the Hidden Learning:  

   

The Hidden Learning has existed (as it exists today) at all times of which we know….  And once it even appeared with accustomed clarity in Public History itself, in the official religion of Ancient Egypt whose complexities are rendered only the more dubious by the anthropological naïveté of professional Egyptology but which shine with an almost unbelievable illumination when a few key principles of the Hidden Learning have been achieved. (King 4).

Orage stressed the centrality of this ancient Egyptian Hidden Learning:

About us, in the creeds, the sects and the distortions of modern Christianity lay the

fragments, of another work of Objective Art, the life of Christ, so it has been said.

According to that account the story of the Christ, a messenger of God upon this planet, was

and is Objective Drama, played not on a stage but in life by the Essene initiate, Jesus. This

play had its origin far earlier, in ancient Egypt, as the drama of the life, death and

resurrection of Ausar (Osiris), the God-in-Man; its function was to present ultimate human

truths through the medium of consciously acted roles.For centuries, we are told, the later

Essene brotherhood, a School itself deriving from Egyptian origins, had held the aim of

presenting this drama in life rather than as a prescribed mystery play and for generations

had trained its postulants to that end. Eventually the cast of thirteen was complete with

Jesus, who had been sent to Egypt for temple training there, cast as the leading actor and

Judas, who must play the next most difficult role, that of the betrayer, fully prepared for his

part. With the necessary modifications demanded by the local scene and times, the action

began.

It is difficult for us to appreciate the magnitude of such an undertaking. The

immediate audience is also without knowing it, the unconscious part of the cast and the

conscious actors must not only fulfill the requirements of their own roles, thereby

objectively demonstrating the truths they have self-selected themselves to manifest, but in

addition they must consciously and deliberately so affect their unconscious counterparts

(the priests and money-changers at the temple, Pontius Pilate, the Jewish mob, the Roman

soldiers, and all the rest) that the latter are forced to enact their own roles, too. Even with

all possible preparations made beforehand, it may well be imagined what hitches in the

performance unforeseen and unpredictable circumstances must threaten and what

consummate ability must be required in order to meet these difficulties and keep the drama

upon its course. No comparable type of acting, the playing so successfully of conscious

roles upon the objective stage of real life, has ever been reported. This was Objective Art.

(emphasis added; King 162-63)

7. Unjust Trials

The scheming woman in “Monkey Junk” is clearly “fallen,” and she prostitutes herself. But she is wrongly judged to be innocent even though it is clear that the wife has been unfaithful to the aggrieved husband. In verse 14, Hurston mentions the horns of adultery:

    “… other men posed the tongue into the cheek and snickered behind the handas he passed,

    saying, “Verily his head is decorated with the horns, he that is so wise and knoweth all the

    law and the profits” (emphasis added).

In the Tales, we find that among many other types of fallsof continents, of civilizations, of religion, and of learningthere is a long section on the degeneration of marriage in which a young Persian confesses to his vices. He has settled in Paris, where immoral women from all over Europe and other parts come “with the obvious intention of putting horns on their other legal halves” (Tales 990-94;emphasis added). Beelzebub finds them guilty.

The Biblical format of “Monkey Junk” will bring to mind Eve, the archetype of fallen woman. Eve is judged by God, and she is found guilty; as a consequence of Eve’s disobedience all mankind has been exiled from eternal life in Paradise into time, suffering, and death. Was this a just judgment? In the trial of Jesus of Nazareth by Pilate (and the judgment of “the multitude”), he is found guilty and so suffers a miscarriage of justice. We have seen that there is an Egyptian intertext in “Monkey Junk,” and there are several other unjust trials relating to the Egyptian Book of the Dead. In E. Wallace Budge’s Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection(1911), the God Set wants to inherit Osiris’s kingdom and so must usurp Horus, the rightful heir son of Osiris and Isis. Set accuses Isis of being a whore who has conceived Horus with another after Osiris’s death.  Therefore, Set argues, Horus is illegitimate and cannot inherit the throne of Egypt. However, the Gods find Isis innocent. In a second trial Set accused Osiris, but his accusations are unknown; Osiris is exonerated and triumphs over Set. (Budge 309-12)  Here the gods give the correct judgment. The Trial of Osiris by Thot after which Osiris is made god of the underworld plays a major role in Hurston’s story and will be discussed below. Once Osiris becomes the judge of the dead he presides over a court in which the dead have to plead perfection: as this is impossible, they must rely on the mercy of Osiris. Both Osiris and Christ were resurrected after death, and each of their teachings shows how time and death can be defeated; this was also Gurdjieff’s teaching, and the fall narrative of the Tales confirms this necessity

    An esoteric text uses a masking text to provide an outward premise. Hurston used the contemporary 1925 Scopes “Monkey Trial” (The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes) to give her story the title “Monkey Junk.” Since the Scopes trial was not a divorce, the fit between the Scopes trial and the fictional trial is not directly obvious, and the association of the trials as unjust trialsmay be thought of as another “lawful inexactitude” that points to the entire esoteric content of “Monkey Junk.” The reader in the 1920s may not immediately have seen how Hurston’s divorce trial related to the Scopes trial, and careful thought would have been required to reveal the connection through the common factor of injustice. In the Scopes trial a public school biology teacher was accused of illegally teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.  The prosecuting counsel, William Jennings Bryan, asked Scopes questions about Adam and Eve in relation to the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib, and in relation to her temptation by the serpent. “In his last words to the court, Scopes, the man who was reluctant from the start, said, “Your Honor, I feel that I have been convicted of violating an unjust statute. I will continue in the future … to oppose this law in any way I can. Any other action would be in violation of my idea of academic freedom’” (“The Scopes Monkey Trial).  This demand that the Bible be read attentively rather than literally relates to the necessity to read the Talesattentively, and Hurston makes the same demands of her reader in “Monkey Junk.”

8. The Scopes Monkey Trial    

The Scopes “Monkey Trial” was of great interest to the public, and it was especially of interest to anthropologists, in that it focused on the split between religious and scientific understandings of evolution. Although Scopes lost his case, his defending attorney demolished the prosecuting counsel by asking questions about Adam and Eve in order to demonstrate that belief in miracles and in the historicity of the Bible is unreasonable. Paul Beekman Taylor points out that in the TalesGurdjieff ridiculed the arguments of both the prosecution and the defense lawyer in the Scopes trial, when Beelzebub remarks to his grandson that evolution “was an American topic of interest. In a parable echoing the Biblical version of the fall of Eve, Beelzebub explained that apes are descended from humans” (Taylor 100).

Hurston’s two-word title “Monkey Junk” links Massey’s Egyptology, the Bible, Gurdjieff’s Tales, and the 1925 Scopes trial. The contemporary divorce trial in her story, like the modern inquisition of science, enacts a travesty in which superstition (for Gurdjieffians a form of “sleep”) triumphed over reason.  It is difficult not to see some racial connection being made to the monkeys in her story, but it remains to be worked out to what extent the levels of esotericism, irony, parody, and social protest can be discriminated.

9. Playing Roles

As we have seen, one aspect of the esoteric is the manipulation of reality. According to Orage, the most ambitious form of this activity was the intervention in history in connection with the story of Jesus Christ. This intervention took the form of conscious and unconscious roles acted in a public objective drama. One aspect of the divorce trial is that it depicts the activity of unconscious role playing, for the wife depicts herself in such a way that the finding is for her side of the case. That the wife’s role- playing is entirely given up to sex appeal is entirely in keeping with what Hurston learned from Gurdjieff, for Gurdjieff taught that sex is the driving force behind “sleep”:

[S]ex plays a tremendous role in maintaining the mechanicalness of life. Everything that people do is connected with ‘sex': politics, religion, art, the theater, music, is all ‘sex’. Do you think people go to the theater or to church to pray or to see some new play? That is only for the sake of appearances. The principal thing, in the theater as well as in church, is that there will be a lot of women or a lot of men. This is the center of gravity of all gatherings. What do you think brings people to cafés, to restaurants, to various fetes? One thing only. Sex: it is the principal motive force of all mechanicalness. All sleep, all hypnosis, depends upon it.” (Ouspensky 254)

Orage also taught pupils how to experiment with playing more conscious roles in their everyday lives than the automatic roles that they usually assumed:

The automatic roles which one plays in life automatically and unconsciously

are dictated by one’s falsely subjective image of oneself ….  [To] alter such roles consciously

and to attempt to play other roles, not on a stage but in life itself, is an extremely advanced

exercise in its final development but a beginning can be made at this stage. Of course there is

nothing “better” about the artificial role which the subject selects to attempt than about the

automatic one he has always been playing; the whole value of the exercise depends upon

the practice of a different, not a better impersonation. Here also we have a field in which

outside confirmation is both possible and required; the criterion of success is not the opinion

of the experimenter himself but is based upon his demonstrated ability to impress others

who are not involved in the experiment, with the validity of his impersonation.

(King 119-20).

This conscious assumption of roles was often referred to by Orage as “experiment.”Clearly esoteric “experiment” is generated by radically different assumptions about morality, truth, and freedom. In short, since the Gurdjieffians saw mankind as being asleep, they did not limit themselves to the social conventions of the sleepers. With this type of model in her mind, there is no wonder that many of Hurston’s critics point to Hurston’s tendency to dissemble. As Laura Grand-Jean has observed, “Throughout her life she lied about her age, her place of birth, and often times her identity. She cloaked herself in the garbs of the many different identities that she created for herself and recounted in her work(Mules and Menwebsite; emphasis added). This is seconded by Henry Louis Gates in his Afterword to Their Eyes Were Watching God: “Hurston did make up significant parts of herself, like a masquerade putting on a disguise for the ball, like a character in her fictions” (202). These discourses account for these effects as being related to matters of Hurston’s individual personality and not to any greater purpose or to a more general group strategy. A similar duplicity was evidenced by the careers of Melvin B. Tolson (a vexing and enigmatic “Marxist” poet who wrote transcendent, complex, intellectually dense poetry) and George Schuyler (“a literary schizophrenic who created a conservative public persona for himself while expressing extreme leftist views through the pseudonymous Samuel I. Brooks” and “a skillful role player, who [created] an array of masks for himself” [Gruesser 679]), two other African-American writers who are were unacknowledged followers of Gurdjieff and who were colleagues of Hurston’s. Similarly, authoritative accounts of Carl Van Vechten relate that he published six bestselling novels during a brief period of several years during which he is supposed to have been habitually drunk night and day and not to have slept at all (Kellner 165); Van Vechten’s behavior also seems to be a case of what Orage called “experiment” in which Van Vechten played the role of a wastrel.

Hurston and her Harlem Renaissance colleagues were but imitating Gurdjieff, who recounted stories about his selling dyed sparrows as rare birds, passing off cheap wines as rare vintages, or conning

Parisian merchants into giving him credit with stories of Texan oil wells. Gurdjieff was enacting

a morality that departed  from the “sleep”-based activities of ordinary people, and his

followers were enthusiastically imitating him to the best of their capacities.   

10. The Trial of Osiris by Thoth

        One of the curious features of “Monkey Junk” is the number of times bodily organs are mentioned in the story. The Egyptian intertext provides a solution to this question. Here is the description of the trial of Osiris in Gerald Massey’s Ancient Egypt:

The highest verdict rendered by the great judge in this most awful Judgment Hall was a testimony to the truth and purity of character established for the Manes [the spirit of the dead] on evidence that was unimpeachable. At this post-mortem the sins done in the body through violating the law of nature were probed for most profoundly. Not only was the deceased present in spirit to be judged at the dread tribunal, the book of the bodywas opened and its record read. The vital organs, such as the heart, liver, and lungs, were brought into judgment as witnesses to the life lived on earth.Any part too vitiated for the rottenness to be cut off or scraped away was condemned and flung as offal to the powers who are called the eaters of filth, the devourers of hearts, and drinkers of the blood of the wicked. And if the heart, for example, should be condemned to be devoured because very bad, the individual could not be reconstructed for a future life. (201-206; emphases added)

As the whole outcome of the trail in Hurston’s story depends on the speech of the accused being true speech, it is fitting that the list of organs and parts of the body commences with the mouth in the second verse of “Monkey Junk.” Thence follow liver (verse 4); heart, tongue, cheek, hand (verse 14); back, tongue (verse 16); tongue (verse 18); teeth (verse 20); hands, hip (verse 22); tongue (verse 26);  (kidneys verse 27); head (verse 35);   heart (verse 38); stiff-necked (verse 41); eyes (verse 43); lips (verse 46);  lips (verse 47);  mouth (verse 51), skin (verse 58); and nose (verse 59).

    Thus, there is yet another trial being conducted in “Monkey Junk”—and it is very likely to have been in Hurston’s mind the most important of the trials. Namely, the trial of Osiris by Thoth by which he was “Osirified” and became the lord of the underworld, seems to be the esoteric focus of Hurston’s story. The drama of the life, death and resurrection of Osiris (the Egyptian theme) was not only fundamental to Orage’s rendition of the Gurdjieff Work, it was a near obsession of Hurston’s. Hurston’s  most ambitious works of fiction (Seraph, Moses, Their Eyes) are suffused with Egyptian lore taken directly from Massey’s Ancient Egypt, and her most highly regarded novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is a covert retelling of the Osiris myth.  It is only the determination of Hurston’s critics to construct preordained feminist and socio-cultural interpretations of her writing that have caused them to assign whatever Egyptian influences have been noticed to a sort of non-specific Afrocentric interest on Hurston’s part: as a sort of culmination of these efforts, Patricia Hill Collins situates Hurston in an “Afrocentric feminist epistemology” (“Race”). But this Egyptian influence is intricately worked into her writings, so that many words, motifs, and symbols were derived from specifically Egyptian sources. Not only that but these materials were specifically taken from the writings of Gerald Masseyparticularly from Ancient Egypt. Massey, for his part, studied the extensive Egyptian holdings in the British Museum and was able to read Egyptian hieroglyphics.  So tied up with Massey’s volumes is Hurston’s fiction that without reference to Massey, there is essentially no means of discovering what Hurston is getting at. On the other hand, by means of a sound knowledge of Massey most of the difficulties that are presented by Hurston’s writing can be cleared up rather efficiently—though here we are speaking of difficulties that proceed from her esotericism, not those presently framed by her critics. (Since searchable versions of Massey’s books are now available on the Web, Hurston’s references to Massey are readily ascertainable.) Hurston had good reasons to depend on Massey for her Egpytology, for he was a Gnostic, an esotericist, and a powerfully imaginative thinker and researcher who traced the entirety of Christianity back to the Egyptian cult of Horus. The work of connecting Egypt to Christ had already been done by Massey in exhaustive detail. Thus Massey served as a storehouse for the detailed lore that supported the Oragean version of Christianity. Leaving nothing to chance, Hurston pointed the reader toward Massey by coding his name into the text of “Monkey Junk, with Gerald in verse 59 and Massey in verse 58.

Hurston unites Biblical and Egyptian references to terrible and finite ends in her penultimate verse:

    61. And he desisted. And after many days did he receive a letter saying “Go to the monkeys,

    thou hunk of mud and learn things and be wise. (emphasis added)

This puzzling end to her story becomes clearer if we recognize it to be, firstly, an allusion to the King James Version of the Bible’s Book of Proverbs, though the entire passage must be consulted to reveal the entire sense of Hurston’s passage. Hurston’s conclusion also echoes both Gurdjieff ‘s exhortation to “wake up,” and the references to body parts discussed above in relation to the trial of Osiris by Thoth.

   

6Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

 7Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,

 8Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

 9How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?

 10Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

 11So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.

 12A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth.

 13He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers;

 14Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord.

 15Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.

(KJV Proverbs 6:6-15)

Secondly, Massey’s discussion of “Sign-language and Mythology” states that:

    Again, the Monkey who is transformed into a man is a prototype of the Moon-God Taht, who is a     Dogheaded Ape in one character and a man in another” (Massey 1995,15).

The monkey can be the source of wisdom, since through this sign Hurston points to the Egyptian god Thot (Thoth), the inventor of writing, the developer of science, and the judge of the dead. In volume two of Ancient Egyptthe profound character of the wisdom of the “monkey” is made manifest, for Massey reveals that the Bible is synonymous with Egyptian scriptures, (Massey, vol.2, 1995,  903). The hellish judgement and sentence is passed in the final verse:  “62. And he returned unto Alabama to pick cotton. Selah.”

Conclusions  

In concluding, we will observe that the majority of research on Hurston’s writings continue to make self-fulfilling assumptions about Hurston and to proceed through circular and pre-conceived arguments and thereby does little to explicate Hurston’s texts meaningfully. For instance Hurston’s folk play “Cold Keener” presents a title that Alice Birney of the Library of Congress states “remains a mystery.” Birney then uses a concept of Hurston’s, “primitive angularity,” to explain why the play “with nine skits that are unrelated in their themes, characters, or even their settings” makes no discernible sense. The title uses the same code used in “Monkey Junk” and says “code key” (See note 11.): the play is esoteric and Hurston’s “primitive angularity” is an inadequate approach. While writing this paper we came across Miriam Thaggert’s Images of Black Modernism: Verbal and Visual Strategies of the Harlem Renaissance(2010). Attracted to Hurston’s provocative assertion that “the white man thinks in a written language and the Negro thinks in hieroglyphics” (Thaggert 2012, 48) in Hurston’s essay “The Characteristics of Negro Expression” (1934), Thaggert undertakes an analysis of Hurston’s “theories of black language” (Thaggert 2012, 47) with no basis for this discussion beyond what Hurston has said about black language. According to Cheryl Wall, Hurston’s “Characteristics” essay has become  “a protocol for reading Hurston’s novels”: Wall observes that “Many critics, including Henry Louis Gates Jr., Karla Holloway, and Lynda Hill have remarked on the intellectual boldness and the insightful brilliance of this essay (Wall 2005). Not only is Hurston’s “Characteristics” essay not anthropology in the first place, it is a parody of W.E B. Du Bois’s discussions of black culture in The Souls of Black Folk(1903) and in his later writings. Hurston took her title from a sentence in “Of the Faith of the Fathers: “The Negro church of to-day is the social centre of Negro life in the United States, and the most characteristic expression of African character” (191). The thesis of Hurston’s essay comes from a statement by Du Bois that “The Negro is essentially dramatic,” (Lorini 2001, 167), and Hurston’s “Characteristics” can in part be understood as a send-up of Du Boisian pomposity. Thus Hurston is fundamentally poised to deceive her trusting, sleeping reader. Even in a brief, early piece like “Monkey Junk” Hurston’s concerns are complex, being synthesized from anthropology, Massey’s long and dense discussion in “Sign-language and Mythology,” the Bible, the esoteric ideas of Orage, and the perplexing text of Gurdjieff’s Tales. Thus scholarship on Hurston is years away from a comprehensive understanding of Hurston’s theories of language and of her literary texts.

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Rauve, Rebecca. “An Intersection of Interests: Gurdjieff’s Rope Group as a Site of Literary

Production.” Twentieth Century Literature  49.1 (2003): 46-81.

The Scopes ‘Monkey Trial’ – July 10, 1925 – July 25, 1925” [Introduction, “Inherit the Wind”]Web. http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug97/inherit/1925home.html

Singh, Amritjit, The Novels of the Harlem Renaissance: Twelve Black Writers, 1923-1933, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1976.

Taylor, Paul Beekman. Gurdjieff’s America. Gurdjieff’s America: Mediating the Miraculousby Paul Beekman Taylor, Cambridge: Lighthouse Editions, 2004. Reissued as Gurdjieff’s Invention of America. Utrecht, The Netherlands: Eureka Editions, 2007.

Thaggert, Miriam. Images of Black Modernism: Verbal and Visual Strategies of the Harem Renaissance. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2010.

Van Vechten, Carl. Nigger Heaven. 1926. New York: Harper Colophon Books, 1971.

Wall, Cheryl. “Zora Neale Hurston’s Essays: On Art and Such.” The Scholar and Feminist Online. Online  3.2. Jumpin’ at the Sun: Reassessing the Life and Work of Zora Neale Hurston.
Monica L. Miller, Guest Editor (2005). Web.
http://www.barnard.edu/sfonline/hurston/wall_04.htm.

Washington, Peter. Madame Blavatsky’s Baboon: A History of the Mystics, Mediums, and Misfits who Brought Spiritualism to America. New York: Shocken Books Inc., 1966 (London: Secker and Warburg, 1993).

Webb, James. The Harmonious Circle. Boston: Shambhala, 1987. (London: Thames and Hudson, 1980).

Welch, Louise. Orage with Gurdjieff in America.Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1982.

Wellbeloved,Sophia.Gurdjieff: The Key Concepts. London: Routledge, 2003.

_____. Gurdjieff, Astrology & Beelzebub’s Tales. New Paltz, NY: Solar Bound Press, 2002. (New Paltz, NY: Abintra Books, 2001).

Woodson, Jon. To Make a New Race: Gurdjieff, Toomer, and the Harlem Renaissance. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 1999.

ENDNOTES

Apologies: these endnotes will arrive shortly when whatever glitch is holding onto them lets go!

Visions of Enchantment: Occultism: Spirituality & Visual Culture

VISIONS OF ENCHANTMENT:  

OCCULTISM, SPIRITUALITY & VISUAL CULTURE

An International Conference

at the University of Cambridge,

17-18 March 2014

THIS TWO-DAY CONFERENCE IS A COLLABORATION BETWEEN THE DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY OF ART, UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE AND THE ARTS UNIVERSITY BOURNEMOUTH AND IS ORGANISED IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE EUROPEAN SOCIETY FOR THE STUDY OF WESTERN ESOTERICISM (ESSWE). IT SEEKS TO INVESTIGATE THE FORMATIVE ROLE THAT OCCULTISM AND SPIRITUALITY HAVE PLAYED IN THE CREATION OF BOTH WESTERN AND NON-WESTERN VISUAL AND MATERIAL CULTURES.

THE CONFERENCE AIMS TO PROVIDE A STIMULATING PLATFORM FOR THE PRESENTATION OF INNOVATIVE RESEARCH IN THIS FIELD AS WELL AS TO ENCOURAGE DIALOGUE AND EXCHANGE BETWEEN ACADEMICS WITH A SPECIFIC RESEARCH INTEREST IN ART AND OCCULTISM.

AN

CALL FOR PAPERS AND FULL DETAILS OF THE CONFERENCE ARE AT:

HTTP://WWW.VISIONSOFENCHANTMENT.COM/

AN

AN

Written by SOPHIA WELLBELOVED

May 31, 2013 at 9:49 pm

JOURNAL: RELIGIOUS SECRECY AS CONTACT. SECRETS AS PROMOTERS OF RELIGIOUS DYNAMICS invites contributions

keys

The editors of the volume Religious Secrecy as Contact. Secrets as Promoters of Religious Dynamics would like to invite contributions concerned with any of the following areas: Islam, Tibet, Central Asia, India, Shamanism (in Asia or Europe).

*Contributions on other areas of European and Asian religions would also be considered.*

We are looking for articles that explore the role of secrecy and secrets in situations of religious contact. For further information please contact Anna Akasoy (akasoy [at] gmx.net).


Description of Volume:
Religious Secrecy as Contact:Secrets as Promoters of Religious Dynamics
Editors: A. Akasoy, L. Di Giacinto, G. Halkias, A. Müller-Lee, P. Reichling, K.M. Stünkel

The proposed volume focuses on “strategies of secrecy” and their role in the history of religious contacts, a neglected field of research in Religious Studies. It comprises a collection of papers presented in a series of interdisciplinary workshops and conferences on the subject of “religion and secrecy” held at the Käte Hamburger Consortium “Dynamics in the History of Religions” between 2008 and 2012. The contributions of the volume analyse the phenomenon of „secretizing‟:
As Mark Teeuwen pointed out, secrecy ― “a form of religious practice in its own right‟ ― refers to a certain process within a given social situation where the secret functions in a certain institutional framework (Teeuwen, Mark and Scheid, Bernhard, eds., The Culture of Secrecy in Japanese Religion, New York: Routledge 2006, p. 4).

The secret itself may be replaced by ritualized secretism that is independent of the content of the secret (Johnson, Paul Christopher, Secret, Gossip, and Gods. The Transformation of Brazilian Candomblé, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, p.3).

The volume challenges the traditional analysis that understands secret merely as a social and epistemological device that prevents contact between an “ingroup‟ and an ”outgroup‟ and provides the means to cut one’s own tradition from external influences. The present volume will rather build on Assmann‟s insights on secrecy as “interaktives Geschehen”, because secrecy involves an interactive dimension which fulfils an important function in cross-cultural contacts‟. (Aleida Assmann, Jan Assmann, „Die Erfindung des Geheimnisses durch die Neugier“, in: Aleida Assmann, Jan Assmann, eds., Schleier und Schwelle III. Geheimnis und Neuzeit, München: Fink 1999, p. 8).

Accordingly, the general hypothesis of the volume is that secrets play a significant role in the inter-religious and intrareligious exchange and all the essays shall examine the function of secrets in examples of religious contacts. While aspects of secrecy usually seem to play a role in religious conduct, analysing the role of secrets within religious traditions involves difficulties. Since, by definition, one cannot hope to grasp „the secret‟ on the level of the object language, the field of possible investigation is reduced to the functional and the linguistic field. More precisely, secrecy can be analysed as a semantic structure that can be identified and described phenomenologically. Hence, it is also not necessary to assume that the terminology of secrecy should be translated one to one across cultures. Secrets are by no means neutral or indifferent notions in religious processes: They rather function as privileged zones of contact. A secret might be described as a catalyst for specific forms of communication since the elusive nature of secret offers rich opportunities for translations from one religious tradition into another and often the results are miscomprehensions, which are harshly rejected by the old secret-keepers. In any case, secrets may function as interfaces of inter-religious and intrareligious contact. As such, they should be analyzed as a blank space that can be identified in distinct ways and understood as a process of emptying conceptual content in different linguistic contexts. Finally, because the content of secrets cannot be determined and translations remain in flux, secrets promote rather than prevent the concrescence of religious traditions.
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Religion mailing list Religion@lists.easaonline.org http://lists.easaonline.org/listinfo.cgi/religion-easaonline.org

SACRED SPACE IN SECULAR INSTITUTIONS: University of Manchester

Manchester

Venue: Humanities Bridgeford Street Building 1.69 (University of Manchester)

Date: Friday 18th January 2013

The role, form and affect of sacred space(s) within ‘secular’ institutions is a theme that is increasingly attractive to scholars within the social sciences. This Socrel study day will consider how different types of organisation – including but not limited to educational establishments, hospitals and hospices, airports, public buildings, shopping centres, etc – ‘make space’ for faith, sacrality and religious practice(s) within their buildings, management structures and public offerings.

The study day will also consider: the key social, cultural and political drivers behind these spaces; precursors and ongoing developments; how such spaces are positioned within contemporary policy debates; and the practical issues practitioners should consider when designing and managing ‘sacred space’ within a secular institution. The day will be centred around three axes:

  • A reflection upon the wide range of institutions that contain set-aside ‘sacred space’.
  • A close sociological reading of what ‘happens’ within these spaces on a day-to-day basis, and how this might be conceptualised methodologically. For instance, how are they ‘shared’? How can effective use be measured?
  • A thoroughgoing assessment of the role and practice(s) of extant religious groups and traditions, within the provision and ongoing usage of these spaces.

We welcome contributions of any length (20 minute papers, 10-15 minute presentations) which address these, and any of the following questions:

  • What are these spaces for, and how are roles and designations contested?
  • What is or can be sacred about these spaces?
  • To what extent are these spaces multi-faith in either description or usage?
  • Do these spaces demonstrate novelty or continuity with existing forms?
  • What are the normative factors governing the development of these spaces (e.g. cohesion, diversity, customer focus, etc). Can these factors always be reconciled?

Please send abstracts to Chris Hewson by 15 December 2012: chris.hewson@manchester.ac.uk

Folk Knowledge: Institute of Ethnology Slovak Academy of Sciences: Call for Papers

AAA bratislava

Folk Knowledge:  Models and Concepts

Institute of Ethnology Slovak Academy of Sciences

March 26th to 28th 2013 


The problem of human knowledge – what a person employs to interpret and act on the world – has been in the centre of scholarly attention for a long time. Knowledge is shaped by culture and distributed in population in certain ways; anthropological research has been directed to the distribution of knowledge – its presence or absence in particular persons – and the social processes influencing these distributions.

Attention has been paid in particular to so-called folk knowledge consisting of beliefs and socially accepted rules corresponding to various spheres of life: social relations, natural environment, reasoning and emotions, economic relations, oral tradition, etc. These beliefs and rules are shared and adapted to the particular local settings. Theoretical debates focused on the models of natural and cultural environment in particular social and cultural conditions, and the impact that those models have on human behaviour. The aim of this conference is to contribute to this focus by bringing together scholars doing research in different cultural settings.

A comparative perspective on human knowledge allows us to unravel a number of aspects of the cultural worlds which people construct. Empirical research can demonstrate how established thoughts, representations, and social relations to a considerable extent configure and filter individual human experience of the world around us and thereby generate culturally diverse worldviews which might include feelings and attitudes as well as information, embodied skills, verbal taxonomies and concepts: all the ways of understanding that humans use to make up a reality.


We invite interested scholars and students to submit proposals for papers which will explore:

• Folk knowledge and expert knowledge

• Material culture: material objects and their cultural meanings

• Religious beliefs and rituals

• Concepts of ethnicity and race

• Social learning: acquisition of knowledge by children and adults

• Children and their concepts

• Verbal concepts and models

• Taxonomy of concepts

• Representations of morality

• Gender relationships and representations

• Representations of economic relations and processes

• Visual representations: construction of meanings


Key lectures:

Prof. Anthony Good

Anthony Good is Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology at the School of Social & Political Science, University of Edinburgh, Great Britain. The lecture: Folk Knowledge and the Law

Prof. John Eade

John Eade is Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Roehampton and former Executive Director of CRONEM (Centre for Research on Nationalism, Ethnicity and Multiculturalism) which links Roehampton and the University of Surrey. He is also Visiting Professor at the Migration Research Unit, the University College London, Great Britain.

The lecture: Contested Knowledges: The Politics of Pilgrimage in a Changing Europe

Dr. William (Lee) W. McCorkle

William McCorkle is

Director of Experimental Research at the LEVYNA (Laboratory for the Experimental Research of Religion and Ritual). He is Associate Professor and Research Specialist at the Department for the Study of Religions, Masaryk University, Czech Republic.

The lecture: From Compulsion to Script: The Evolution of Ritual and the Rise of Religions


Submission details:

The language of the conference will be English only. The papers should last no more than 20 minutes.

Abstracts (up to 350-words in Word doc.), with contact details and affiliation, should be sent to:

the conference e-mail address: uet.conference@savba.sk by 31st January 2013.

You will be informed about acceptance or non-acceptance of your proposal by 15th February 2013.


Conference participation fee:

• scholars who will present their papers: € 50;

• PhD students who will present their papers: € 25;

• participants who will not present papers: free. The participation fee includes all conference proceedings and daytime refreshments. Accommodation is not included in the conference fee.


Organizational team: Tatiana Bužeková, Institute of Ethnology SAS, email: tatiana.buzekova@savba.sk Miroslava Hlinčíková, Institute of Ethnology SAS, email: miroslava.hlincikova@savba.sk Danijela Jerotijević, Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences, Comenius University, email: danijela.jerotijevicova@fses.uniba.sk Soňa G. Lutherová, Institute of Ethnology SAS, email: sona.lutherova@savba.sk

They look forward to seeing you in Bratislava in March 2013!

Nevill Drury’s “Pathways in Modern Western Magic” – reviewed by John Robert Colombo

Modern Western Magic

Nevill Drury’s “Pathways in Modern Western Magic” is reviewed by John Robert Colombo

This is a hefty and handsome piece of bookmaking, something of a tome, a trade paperback that measures six inches by nine inches. It is bulky for it is one and one-quarter inch thick, with pages glued together rather than stitched, and x+470+6 pages in length. There is an informative introduction, a total of 17 substantial chapters, a section of interesting biographical notes about its contributors (complete with email addresses), and a detailed 27-page index. (The index has a passing reference to Grey Owl, but no reference to P.D. Ouspensky; there is a passing reference to the Great God Pan, but no reference to G.I. Gurdjieff.)

The tome is a collection of accessibly written though unsparingly earnest scholarly papers, each paper with its own endnotes and references, some quite extensive. While there is no list of illustrations, maybe thirty-five black-and-white photographs and drawings appear here and there to illustrate general references in the articles. It is a book to be read intermittently and to be  consulted from time to time, should the reader be interested in what the editor identifies as “modern Western magic” and should the aspect of that topic of interest be covered by one of the book’s contributors.

The publisher is Concrescent Press, a relatively new imprint from Seattle, Washington, founded in the late 1990s but only now commissioning and publishing books that may be described as “esoteric.” I will refrain from  defining that term, or trying to determine its definition by the publisher Sam Webster, but I will quote how he has described the aim of the press: “Our intention is to build a community of practice and scholarship primarily focused on Pagan Magic.” So it seems that Concrescent Press is an activist, semi-academic imprint that is beginning to specialize in the production of quality books of interest about a subject that is marginal in interest and perhaps imaginal in nature.

Scholars, take note: It is open for business! The publisher even offers a short preface which begins like this: “‘Pathways in Modern Western Magic’ launches a new imprint in the Concrescence family of books. This imprint specializes in peer-reviewed works of scholarship in the fields of Esotericism, Pagan religion and culture, Magic, and the Occult. Concrescent Scholars present their views from within and without the Academy. Here will be heard the Voice of the Academic, and also the Voice of the Practitioner, the native of the sometimes alien, sometimes intimate, spaces of the Esoteric.” My attention was caught by the distinction between “academic” and “practitioner” (both curiously capitalized) and I will refer to that distinction or dichotomy later in this review.

In passing, it is interesting to note that one of the imprint’s first publications is Sam Webster’s own title “Tantric Thelema.” So the press seems to have a definite orientation towards Aleister Crowley and “Crowleyanity” and his notion of magic as change in conformity with will. Although the word “concrescent” and its cognate “concrescence” are not widely used, they have a recognized meaning in biology to refer to the “growing together of related parts, tissues, or cells” or simply “the amassing of physical particles, or cells.” It presumably means the opposite of “excrescence”!

A book’s index speaks volumes about that title, and this index supplies a clue concerning who’s who and what’s what. For instance, there are 7 page references to Sigmund Freud; 18 to Carl Jung; 36 to Rose and Aleister Crowley. In the same vein, Consciousness and God run neck to neck with 90 and 91 references respectively, only to be outdone by tireless Time (with 128 references). The highest score goes to Magic/Magick at 271 references, so that for every two pages of the book there is one mention of the magical arts.

What the book’s index describes is dramatized by the book’s table of contents. Simplifying the principle of organization, the reader who stays with the text from page 1 to page 470 will encounter chapters that concentrate on the following subjects or topics: two theoretical considerations of esotericism in the West in our time; two discussions of Wicca; three analyses of what is called “Neo-Shamanism” and “Seidr oracles”; two deliberations about the Golden Dawn and Crowley’s “Thelemic Sex Magick”; one chapter on “Dragon Rouge” or the “Left-Hand Path”; three chapters on the Church of Satan, the Temple of Set, and “the Magical Life of Ithell Colquhoun”; a consideration of “two Chthonic Magical Artists” (Austin Osman Spare and Rosaleen Norton); one section on “Chaos Magics in Britain”; a forward-looking discussion of “Technoshamans and Cybershamans”; and one section on “a Hybridized Tantra Practice.” That is a lot to digest.

For the record, here are the names of the contributors of those chapters (sidestepping the multiple contributions made by the book’s editor): Nevill Drury, Lynne Hume, Dominique Beth Wilson, Nikki Bado, Marguerite Johnson, Andrei A. Znamenski, Robert J. Wallis, Jenny Blain, Thomas Karlsson, James R. Lewis, Don Webb, Amy Hale, Dave Evans, Libuše Martínková, Paul Hine. The majority of these scholars are widely published, they hold advanced degrees (some in interdisciplinary studies), and they mainly teach in departments of Anthropology, History, Humanities, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Sociology, etc., with universities in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia. I did not spot a single psychologist or psychiatrist, or any professor who teaches a course in Literature. (I think the latter is an interesting observation.)

The names of all of the contributors are new to me, including that of Nevill Drury, whom I should have known about, who is described as “an independent researcher whose specialist interests include contemporary Western magic, shamanism and visionary art.” Experienced as a book editor and publisher in his native Australia, he holds a doctorate on the Western esoteric tradition from the University of Newcastle. His book “Stealing Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Modern Western Magic” was published by Oxford University Press in 2011. He contributes a couple of chapters and writes in a way that is at once accomplished and appealing.

These details may be of incidental interest, but they set the stage for the discussion that follows. To use the distinction introduced by the publisher, the reviewer of this publication who is an Academic would have to relate it to academic publications by Ronald Hutton, Marina Warner, Joscelyn Godwin, Jeffrey J. Kripal, and other distinguished scholars who have contributed original research to the field, especially to the SUNY Press series on Western Occultism, whereas the reviewer who is a Practitioner would find it necessary to relate it to handbooks, manuals, grimoires, and half the books issued by Llewellyn Publications, Samuel Weiser Inc., and Watkins Publishing. It is not often that the twain do meet.

It is unlikely there is a single reader of this review who has this dual background – including the writer of the present review! – so a reasonable course to take here is to comment on each chapter to assure the prospective reader that the book is serious in intent, in interest, and in information. As the same time I have yet to be convinced (a) that there is a single chapter that is indispensable reading for the light it sheds on its subject, and (b) that the chapters dovetail in some unexpected way to form a whole that suggests that there is a paradigm for a new way to understand the subject matter and its supposed cohesiveness. In sum, the value of the collection is about equal to the sum of its parts. 

I have somewhat the same reaction to this book as I had when in 2008 I reviewed for this website Joscelyn Godwin’s The Golden Thread: The Ageless Wisdom of the Western Mystery Traditions. The thread in that title is tangled and frayed and knotted: one thing happens after another without causal connection, though its knowledgeable and perceptive author offered his own “authoritative” voice to the puzzles and the mysteries that he described and discussed. This same problem was faced by Manly P. Hall way back in 1928 when, at the tender age of twenty-seven and all by himself, he researched and published The Secret Teachings of All Ages, which is the great-mother and mother-lode of all such books as these. (I also reviewed Hall’s work for this website.) Perhaps the fault here lies in the nature of the so-called Western tradition of esotericism, which includes magic, for the “tradition” seems to be discontinuous, a helter-skelter of false starts and abrupt stops. There seems to be no transcendent principle at work. Such, anyway, seems to be the fate of books that comprise the library of paradoxography.

Pathways in Modern Western Magic” might better be retitled “Footpaths in Modern Western Magic.” There is something makeshift about the choice of what is included and what is excluded. A “pathway” suggests a well-defined religious goal, like a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, whereas a “footpath” suggests a walk through the woods in Indian file to no discernible destination, though a lot of ground is covered. No mention is made of some related subjects – including psychical research, parapsychology, psychokinesis, imaging techniques, the Algonkian oracular complex, consciousness studies, LSD, neuroimaging, brain research, consciousness studies. For instance, there is a lot that is “magical” and even “magickal” about UFOs, as Jung knew, but not in these pages.

Mythopoesis is short-changed, and the writers fail to turn to the literary imagination to illustrate their points. Perhaps it never occurred to them, though assuredly many of their points were memorably made by poets like William Blake (who goes without a single reference in the index) and Kathleen Raine (who is merely footnoted). It might be said (by me anyway) that Nevill Drury, the editor, is so intent on covering serious subjects of less-than-usual interest, that he neglects popular subjects of more-than-passing interest. To his credit he commissioned the majority of these substantial studies; only a few of which seem to have received prior publication. To the extent that the book is devoted to “magic/magick” in theory and practice – or given the academic tone, to theoria and praxis – it is detailed, and some of the chapters are comprehensive. The historical record gives way to the contemporary record and the 20th and 21st centuries have been rich ones indeed to innovations in this field (or in these pastures). At times I visualized Mages collected around tables and shrines and altars looking for all the world like historical reenactors, thuribles at the ready!

What I really miss are two chapters that should be written: one chapter devoted to contemporary churches in the West with their fundamentalist religious practices which are magical to the core (prophecy, faith-healing, speaking in tongues, revelators, etc.), and another chapter devoted to the depiction (as distinct from the description) of the magical arts in the literature and film of our time and place. But the first chapter would have to be written with great tact, and as for the second chapter, there is probably an unwillingness to regard any of the rituals and relationships and correspondences of these “magicks” as the products of the literary mind and the productions of the fictional imagination. This I feel is a loss (but it is also the subject for another article).

To suggest the seriousness and enthusiasm that are characteristic of this book, here is a survey of it chapter by chapter, with one or two impressions of each chapter, taken almost at random to suggest the richness in research, thought, and expression.

Introduction: Nevill Drury reminds us of the anthropological distinction between “etic” accounts and “emic” accounts — the former being accounts presented from the outside, the latter being accounts presented from the inside. Scholar or practitioner, self-exploration and spiritual renewal, these matters are stressed. The foundation is well and truly laid.

Chapter 1: “Lifting the Veil.” Lynne Hume pursues the characteristics of the “emic” approach and along the way examines altered states of consciousness, emotion, imagination, experience, epistemology, etc. The essential irrationality of magic is understood and not dismissed.

Chapter 2: “The Visual and the Numinous.” Dominique Beth Wilson examines the experience of the “mysterium tremendum et fascinans” that is the basis of Pagan (capitalized) and Neopagan practice. The activities of the Applegrove coven in Sydney, Australia, are described in interesting detail.

Chapter 3: “Encountering the Universal Triple Goddess of Wicca” is a discussion by Nikki Bado of Maiden, Mother, and Crone. There is a detailed consideration of the place of dichotomy and of evolving paradigms. What is required is that we “learn to see the shifting play of light and dark, to see dynamic polarities rather than dichotomies.”

Chapter 4: “Away from the Light.” The dark aspects of the goddess have attracted the attention of Marguerite Johnson who examines in some detail Wicca, Neo-paganism, and Witchcraft. I like the discussion of the primal “egregore” which “denotes a collective force that is made manifest by meditation and ritual.”

Chapter 5: “Neo-Shamanism in the United States,” contributed by Andrei A. Znamenski, mentions Mircea Eliade and Carlos Castaneda but concentrates on Michael Harner and Native American shamanism. The idea is floated that “anti-structure” is “an ideal structure for contemporary educated Westerners, who are too skeptical to commit themselves to group values and who, at the same time, long for spiritual experience.” (This is a variation on the theme of “the religion of no religion” with respect to Esalen.)

Chapter 6: “Neo-Shamanism in Europe.” Robert J. Wallis considers the “construct” of the notion of shamanism which has been part of European consciousness for the last two centuries and part of its practice for millennia. One section-heading reads: “Everyone’s a shaman: Decontextualising and universalising shamans.” There is a reference to “entheogen,” “to inspire the god within,” and the psychedelic nature or component of the experience.

Chapter 7: “Seidr Oracles” is the work of Jenny Blain and it refers to North European shamanistic work. Seers and seeresses here are heavily influenced by the Old Norse sagas, and the chapter introduces words and phrases like “Heathenry and Earth Religions.” Of all the chapters, this one is probably the most descriptive and informative for the lay reader.

Chapter 8: “Magical Practices in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” by Nevill Drury is a one-stop yet quite-thorough history of this most-influential magical order, one that attracted and influenced Aleister Crowley and W.B. Yeats, among other writers. There is much discussion of its Tree of Life, symbolism, correspondences, and visionary practices.

Chapter 9: “The Thelemic Sex Magick of Aleister Crowley” is also by Nevill Drury and it tells the reader all that it is necessary to know about this mage, the Ordo Templi Orientis, and the “elixir” of his “sex magick.” There is more information and theory in these pages than there are details about practice and procedure.

Chapter 10. “The Draconian Tradition” is subtitled “Dragon Rouge and the Left-Hand Path.” Thomas Karlsson discusses the primal forces before creation and by stressing the darker energies holds to the alchemical principle “en to pan” (all is one). Taoism, Tantra, Kundalini, Crazy Wisdom … all these come to mind and to body.

Chapter 11: “Claiming Hellish Hegemony.” James R. Lewis tells – and retells – the story of  Anton La Vey, the Church of Satan, and the “Satanic Bible.” Many times has the story been told, but here the retelling distinguishes between the heroic legend and the sordid fact. The hodge-podge construction of the influential “Satanic Bible” is really quite extraordinary.

Chapter 12: “Modern Black Magic” by Don Webb begins, “When I joined the Temple of Set in 1989.” It discusses the syncretistic nature of the cult or sect’s dogma and ritual and ends “with a few recommendations for further reading.” The Temple seems both authentic and eccentric!

Chapter 13: “The Magical Life of Ithell Colquhoun.” Amy Hale looks at the “innovative spirit” of the artist with the memorable name, placing her initially among the Surrealists, latterly among the Celtic-influenced magicians. It is a sympathetic introduction to her art and texts.

Chapter 14: “Two Chthonic Magical Artists.” Nevill Drury’s sympathies go to the British visionary artist Austin Osman Spare whose work is better known than that of the bohemian Australian witch Rosaleen Norton. Text and illustrations are combined to make memorable introductions to their work.

Chapter 15: “Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted” is the title of Dave Evans’s study of “Chaos magics.” Crowley is a key influence here, but so is relativism and deconstruction and the suggestion that there are times “when Chaos becomes the Norm.”

Chapter 16: “The Computer-Mediated Religious Life of Technoshamans and Cybershamans.” This long-winded title introduces Libuše Martínková and her study of how computers and digital technologies are influencing everything from shamanic practice to lucid dreaming. It ends with a consideration of reality in terms of “the issue of virtuality.”

Chapter 17: “The Magic Wonderland of the Senses” is subtitled “Reflections on a Hybridised Tantra Practice.” Phil Hine looks at Tantra and Shakti and Kali through both occult and scholarly eyes, and decides they require no more “Western universalised esoteric schemas” but “the wider cultural formations of India.”

At one point I took a break from reading the heady descriptive and analytic prose that constitutes “Pathways” to reread “The Circular Ruins,” a short, highly imaginative story written by Jorge Luis Borges. First published in 1941 and widely reprinted, this work of fiction includes a passage in which its unnamed narrator, addressing himself, ponders the “enigmas” of the world. His words capture some of the possibilities of philosophical notions that are taken with the utmost seriousness in “Pathways.”

Here is that passage: “He understood that the task of molding the incoherent and dizzying stuff that dreams are made of is the most difficult work a man can undertake, even if he fathom all the enigmas of the higher and lower spheres – much more difficult than weaving a rope of sand or minting coins of the faceless wind. He understood that initial failure was inevitable.”

The story is readily available in the Penguin Book edition of Jorge Luis Borges’s  “On Mysticism” (2010) edited and introduced by Maria Kodama. It takes the reader farther – and further – along the “footpaths” of “Pathways in Modern Western Magic.” 

John Robert Colombo is an author and anthologist who lives in Toronto and is known as Canada’s “Master Gatherer.” He contributed the Foreword to Eureka Press’s recently published study “Real Worlds of G.I. Gurdjieff” by Paul Beekman Taylor. He has collected the hitherto uncollected short fiction and reminiscences of Sax Rohmer, the creator of Dr. Fu Manchu; the titles of these books are “Pipe Dreams” and “The Crime Magnet.” His website is < http://www.colombo.ca >

* * * * * * *

If you liked the above review you may like his Foreword to Eureka Press’s recently published study “Real Worlds of G.I. Gurdjieff” by Paul Beekman Taylor, at http://gurdjieffbooks.wordpress.com/ Gurdjieff’s teaching: for scholars and practitioners  an independent  site which looks at the teaching of G. I. Gurdjieff and Gurdjieff-related studies with reference to both practitioners and scholars.’ Sophia Wellbeloved.

28 Nov. 2012

MEDICINE – RELIGION – WITCHCRAFT: SAPIENZA UNIVERSITY OF ROME

MEDICINE, RELIGION, WITCHCRAFT

Rome, 30 th November – 1st December 2012

SAPIENZA UNIVERSITY OF ROME

DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY, CULTURES, RELIGIONS

P.le A. Moro, 5  – 00185 Roma

Rationale of the workshop

Medicine, religion, witchcraft are three apparently different domains of ideas, knowledge, practices and beliefs, as well as three different domains of anthropological investigation characterized by rather independent objectives, methods and theoretical frameworks.

Medicine and religion have often been tackled together or at least approached with similar goals, and interconnected in the observation and analysis. Traditional medicine and witchcraft have been often superimposed or confused by colonial powers and practices, and even today the popular discourse confuses them. Religion and witchcraft show some links both in practices and beliefs that have been explored only partially. The anthropological interest in these three fields of investigation is almost always intermingled with questions and arguments of political, economic, psychological nature that dealt more with each field separately than with the complex web of interrelations among them.

We wish to propose an integrated method of study which may give the opportunity of working in the perspective of analyzing that complex web, and producing a new and deeper anthropological awareness and capability in the interpretation of events, processes and representations implying the three categories and fields, as well as their socio-psychological, economic-political and symbolic backgrounds. The workshop aims at contributing to the construction of such a new perspective through the proposal of developing analyses and discussions that put witchcraft at the centre in order to reflect on its reciprocal interrelations with medicine, on one  side, and religion, on the other, keeping the system of relations between medicine and religion as an empirical and theoretical horizon.

Witchcraft turned again as a topical subject since the late Eighties of last Century mainly for its links with wealth and power, and in relation to its supposed  universality within the globalization process, giving rise consequently to a strong interest in the postmodern wave, highly influenced by the foucaultian theses. The hidden risk in this intellectual trend lies in the allurement of proposing again, even though in terms radically new, the issue of the function of witchcraft as a factor of social cohesion in the context of the practices and representations in a globalized world. Therefore, the understanding of the deep nature of witchcraft, and its mysterious and enigmatic principles of reality, and its links with the material and spiritual aspects of reality – culturally and scientifically represented by medicine and religion – runs the risk of escape completely.

Participants:

1. Aria Dr.Matteo (PostDoc, Sapienza University of Rome)

niaria@tin.it

2. Bellagamba Prof. Alice (Professor of Anthropology, University of Milan Bicocca)

alicebellagamba@yahoo.it

3. Casciano Davide (MA student, Sapienza University of Rome)

davide@casciano.info

4. Ceriana Mayneri Dr. Andrea (PostDoc, Université Catholique de Louvain)

afrinauta@gmail.com

5. Costantini Osvaldo (PhD student, Sapienza University of Rome)

mrmisin@hotmail.com

6. Ekem Rev. Prof. John David K. (Academic Dean, Trinity Theological Seminary, Legon,

Accra, Ghana)

jdekem@gmail.com

7. Lupo Prof. Alessandro (Professor of Anthropology, Sapienza University of Rome)

alessandro.lupo@uniroma1.it

8. Meyer Prof. Birgit (Professor of Religious Studies, University of Utrecht)

b.meyer@uu.nl

9. Pavanello Prof. Mariano (Professor of Anthropology, Sapienza University of Rome)

mariano.pavanello@uniroma1.it

10. Schirripa Prof. Pino (Professor of Anthropology, Sapienza University of Rome)

pinoschirripa@uniroma1.it

11. Vasconi Dr. Elisa (PhD, University of Siena)

elisavasconi@yahoo.it

Department of Religious Studies and Theology, Trans 14, 3512 JK Utrecht, Netherlands;

tel. +31302533838.

Webpage:

http://www.uu.nl/hum/staff/BMeyer/0; co-editor of Material Religion

http://www.bergpublishers.com/BergJournals/MaterialReligion/tabid/517/Default.aspx

PROGRAMME

Friday 30

th November 2012, morning – 1st Session (Witchcraft:

epistemological issues)

11.00

Mariano Pavanello, Birgit Meyer, Opening of the workshop

11.30

Matteo Aria, Witchcraft, biopower and extraordinary anthropology

12.00

Mariano Pavanello, A hypothesis on the nature of African witchcraft

12.30 debate

13.00 lunch

Friday 30

th November 2012, afternoon – 2nd Session (Medicine, Religion,

Witchcraft in ethnographic perspective)

15.00

Andrea Ceriana Mayneri, Sorcellerie, enfance et abandon en Afrique

équatoriale

15.30

Alessandro Lupo, Patients, mystical journeys and health care:

negotiating therapeutic paths in Mexican contexts of medical pluralism

16.00

Pino Schirripa, Where Christianity is ancient. Pentecostalism, evil in the

world and break with the past in Ethiopia

16.30

Osvaldo Costantini, B Yesus Sïm (in the name of Jesus). Some notes

about Eritrean and Ethiopian Pentecostal churches in Rome (Italy)

17.00 debate

18.00 closing

20.00 dinner at gazebo restaurant of

Casa dell’Aviatore” (v.le Università, 20)

Saturday 1

st December 2012, morning – 3rd Session (Medicine, Religion,

Witchcraft in politics and history )

9.30

Rev. John David K. Ekem Medicine, Religion and Healing. An African

approach

10.00

Alice Bellagamba, Politics and African witchcraft: a long term discussion

10.30

Elisa Vasconi, Witchcraft, Traditional Medicine and Colonial Rule in

Ghana

11.00

Davide Casciano, Pentecostalism, HIV and Witchcraft in Nigeria

11.30 debate

12.30

Birgit Meyer, Conclusions

13.00 closing

Correspondences: an online Journal for the Academic Study of Western Esotericism

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Correspondences. An online Journal for the Academic Study of Western Esotericism.

Call for papers. Deadline: feb. 28, 2013.

About

Correspondences seeks to create a public academic forum devoted to discussion and exposition of issues and currents in the field commonly known as ‘Western Esotericism.’ The editors acknowledge that the use of “Western esotericism” as an umbrella term for a widely variant field of alternate scientific and religious ideas is problematic. Thus, articles related to esoteric currents from other global cultural centers may be accepted if a connection to “alternative” currents in “western culture” is implicitly established.

The following list of areas of study is provided for clarification: Alchemy, Anthroposophy, Astrology, Eco-spirituality, Esoteric art, literature, and music, Freemasonry, Geomancy, Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Illuminism, Initiatory secret societies, Kabbalah, Magic, Mesmerism, Mysticism, Naturphilosophie, Neo-paganism, New Age, Occultism, Occulture, Paracelsianism, Rosicrucianism, Satanism, Spiritualism, Theosophy, Traditionalism, Ufology, Witchcraft.

Correspondences encourages submissions from a variety of methodological and disciplinary approaches, such as: History of Religions; Sociology; Art History; Philosophy; History of Science; Literature; ; and Cultural Studies, just to name a few.

Editors

Jimmy Elwing, rMA student, Universiteit van Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Aren Roukema, rMA student, Universiteit van Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Editorial Board

Egil Asprem, MA, Researcher, Universiteit van Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Dr. Henrik Bogdan, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Dr. Juan Pablo Bubello, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Dr. Dylan Burns, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Dr. Peter Forshaw, Universiteit van Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Christian Giudice, PhD student, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Dr. Amy Hale, St. Petersburg College, United States.

Prof. Boaz Huss, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.

Prof. Birgit Menzel, Universität Mainz, Germany.

More Information, please contact us at

submissions@correspondencesjournal.com

URL: http://correspondencesjournal.com/

Looking for Mary Magdalene: Alternative Pilgrimage and Ritual Creativity at Catholic Shrines in France

Looking for Mary Magdalene.

Alternative Pilgrimage and Ritual Creativity at Catholic Shrines in France

Oxford Ritual Studies Series,

Oxford and New York:   Oxford University Press

Anna Fedele offers a sensitive ethnography of alternative pilgrimages to French Catholic shrines dedicated to Saint Mary Magdalene. Drawing on more than three years of fieldwork, she describes how pilgrims from Italy, Spain, Britain, and the United States interpret Catholic figures, symbols, and sites according to theories derived from the international Neopagan movement.

ppp

Fedele pays particular attention to the pilgrims’ life stories, rituals and reading. She examines how they devise their rituals, how anthropological literature has influenced them, and why this kind of spirituality is increasingly prevalent in the West. These pilgrims cultivate spirituality in interaction with each other and with textual sources: Jungian psychology, Goddess mythology, and “indigenous” traditions merge into a corpus of practices centered upon the worship of the Goddess and Mother Earth, and the sacralization of the reproductive cycle. Their rituals present a critique of Roman Catholicism and the medical establishment, and question contemporary discourse on gender.

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In this theoretically nuanced and ethnographically rich study, Anna Fedele carefully lays out the complex and imaginative worlds of Mary Magdalene’s contemporary spiritual pilgrims and their sacred landscapes of European forests, waters, caves, and rocks imbued with symbol and meaning. Immersing herself in their created ceremonies, she reports back to us with sensitivity and insight about their reinterpretations of gender, sexuality, community, and religion.”

Sarah M. Pike, author of Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves: Contemporary Pagans and the Search for Community

ppp

This is a rich, thoughtful, and quite startling account of the new spirituality around Mary Magdalene, and around menstruation, darkness and the creativity of loss.

Tanya Luhrmann, Watkins University Professor, Department of Anthropology, Stanford University

ppp

Oxford Ritual Studies Series, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press

336 pages

SBN13: 978-0-19-989842-8: 

I SBN10: 0-19-989842-

ppp

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO: Science and the Occult in the Near and Middle East

kkk

The Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations

Graduate Students’Association presents

The 17th Annual Graduate Symposium

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March 14-15, 2013 

                                  kkk

Open Call for Papers

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Deadline for Submissions: January 13, 2013 

kkk

The Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations Graduate Students Association of the University of Toronto invites proposals for the 17th Annual Graduate Symposium to be held on March 14-15, 2013. Since 1997, the NMCGSA Symposium has provided the opportunity for promising graduate students to share their original research with the broader scholarly community in a conference-like forum, and to publish their presentations as proceedings. By annually bringing together specialists in archaeology, history, anthropology, comparative literature, religion, art, philosophy, and political science, the symposium provides a unique opportunity for interdisciplinary discourse focused on the study of the Near and Middle East. The 2013 symposium aims to highlight this diversity in order to foster communication and exchange across disciplinary boundaries. While we encourage submissions that are related to the topics of science and the occult, we are nevertheless open to any variety of topics that pertain to the realm of Near and Middle Eastern Studies. kkk Submitting a Paper: Presenters are asked to submit an abstract of 250 words by e-mail attachment no later than January 13, 2013. Submissions should also include the following information in the body of the email: presenters name, program (M.A, Ph.D.), year of study, research focus, university and department, complete address, telephone number, email address, title of paper, and audio-visual requirements. We highly encourage the submission of panel proposals as it will increase the chances of acceptance. kkk Presentations must not exceed 20 minutes. The abstracts will be reviewed by committee and presenters will be informed of their acceptance no later than January 27, 2013. For purposes of anonymous adjudication, please do NOT include your name or other identification on the abstract attachment. kkk If your paper is being submitted as part of a proposed panel or considered under a specific theme, please include the panel title or the proposed theme under the title of the paper on the abstract. kkk Please send us your submissions via the following e-mail address: nmcgsasymposium@gmail.com kkk Arshavez Mozafari Ph.D. Candidate (IV) Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations University of Torontoa.mozafari@utoronto.ca    

UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD – LECTURER IN THE STUDY OF RELIGION

 

Theology and Religion Faculty Centre

The The The Faculty of Theology and Religion, in association with Pembroke College, proposes to appoint to a University Lectureship in the Study of Religion (Grade 30S: £42,883 – £57,581 p.a. ). The post of University Lecturer is the main career grade for academic faculty at Oxford and is equivalent to a North American associate professorship. The lecturer will be a member of the Faculty of Theology and Religion and will also hold a Tutorial Fellowship at Pembroke College. Grade 30S: £42,883 – £57,581 p.a.

The

The successful candidate will be an outstanding scholar whose expertise lies within the broad field of the Study of Religion. He or she will hold a doctorate in any field relating to the Study of Religion, have a strong record of research and publication at an international level and previously have secured research funding. The ability to deliver effective class and small-group (tutorial) teaching to high-achieving and challenging students and to supervise graduate students for the Faculty is essential. Please upload a curriculum vitae (or resumé), including an email address and telephone number; a letter explaining how you meet the criteria for this post outlined in the further particulars; and two samples of written work (for example, a book chapter, a peer-reviewed journal article, or other research paper. Peer-reviewed online publications are acceptable). Please do not submit complete book manuscripts.

The The post is tenable from 1 October 2013 or as soon as possible thereafter. The closing date for applications is 12 noon on Wednesday 12 December 2012. Informal enquires about the post may be emailed to:

The

Dr Sondra Hausner (sondra.hausner@theology.ox.ac.uk).

The

http://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/AFN020/university-lecturer-in-the-study-of-religion/

AFTERLIFE: University of Bristol: 18th Postgraduate Religion and Theology Conference

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8 & 9 March 2013

Keynote speaker: Professor Ronald Hutton

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This conference brings together postgraduates and early-career academics working on the study of religions from a variety of perspectives and disciplines, creating a space for them to share their work and to further encourage research and collaboration within the University of Bristol (the host institution), and among members of other universities within the South West region and beyond.

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The conference has a long history of drawing together postgraduate students and their supervisors from universities in the surrounding area and beyond. Last year saw us expand to a record number of participating speakers, delegates, and partner institutions. Forty-nine papers, divided in seventeen sessions, were presented by postgraduate students and early career academics, from eighteen universities. Almost one hundred delegates attended at least part of the conference. A session for undergraduate papers was also held, with notable success.
Although we encourage applications that directly address the theme of the conference ‘Afterlife’, in all its interpretations, contributions are welcome from all disciplines and areas related to the study of religions: theology, history, anthropology, sociology, archaeology, literature, art, music.

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Presentations will be grouped in panels, each consisting of three 20-minute papers followed by a 30-minute period for questions and discussion. Panels will be chaired by lecturers from Bristol and other partner universities.

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We are also accepting submissions for research posters. Displayed in the conference common room, these will allow further communication of research. A prize will be awarded to the poster voted best by the conference participants. Guidelines of the preparation of posters and a sample poster presentation can be found on the conference’s website. Please note that an applicant may submit a poster as well as a paper and that both may be accepted, on the condition that they cover different topics.

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Please submit abstracts for papers and/or posters through our University’s ‘Stop Shop’ page at: http://shop.bris.ac.uk/browse/product.asp?catid=521&modid=1&compid=1

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The deadline for submitting proposals will be 12:00 noon on Tuesday 15 January 2013.

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Kindly note that the organisers are not in a position to assist anyone with visas, and will not consider or accept abstracts from those who require assistance with visas.
Registration for the conference will open at 12:00 noon on 22 January 2013 and will include refreshments and lunch on both days. Early registration is free for members of partner institutions and £10 for participants from other institutions or for those who are unaffiliated. Please note that all registrations received after 12 noon, Friday 8 February, will incur a £10 late registration fee.
A limited amount of financial assistance may be available to presenters of papers and/or posters. The assistance may be used towards defraying travel or accommodation expenses, or the early registration fee for participants from non-partner institutions. Application details will be posted in late January 2013 on the conference website.

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Optional social events will be held on both evenings of the conference.

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For more information and registration, please visit: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/arts/gradschool/conferences/thrs/

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And join us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pgRTconference and on Twitter at: @pgRTconference

OXFORD UNIVERSITY’S DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION: ANTHROPOLOGICALLY FOCUSED MASTER’S AND DOCTORAL RESEARCH ON RELIGION AND EDUCATION

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The University of Oxford’s Department of Education supports anthropologically focused Master’s and Doctoral research on religion and education:

OX

http://www.education.ox.ac.uk/courses/pgce/subjects/religious-education/

Procedures and information:

http://www.education.ox.ac.uk/courses/d-phil/admission-procedure-for-dphil/ X

http://www.education.ox.ac.uk/courses/admission-procedure-msc/

OX

November and January applications are encouraged. Inquiries may be directed to the Higher Degrees Office:OX

higherdegreesoffice@education.ox.ac.uk

WARBURG INSTITUTE’S CENTRE FOR THE HISTORY OF ARABIC STUDIES IN EUROPE (CHASE): RESEARCH FELLOWSHIP: FUNDED – BRILL (LEIDEN

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The publishing house Brill (Leiden) is generously sponsoring an annual research Fellowship at the Warburg Institute’s Centre for the History of Arabic Studies in Europe (CHASE). The Fellowship has been made possible by the “Sheikh Zayed Book Award” which was awarded to Brill Publishers in March 2012 for publishing excellence in Middle East and Islamic Studies.

The Brill Fellowship at CHASE to be held in the academic year 2013-14 will be of two or three months duration and is intended for a postdoctoral researcher. The Fellowship will be awarded for research projects on any aspect of the relations between Europe and the Arab World from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.

The closing date for applications is the 30 November 2012. Please visit our website for application details (http://warburg.sas.ac.uk/fellowships/short-term/).

COUNTERCULTURE RESEARCH GROUP: FILM SCREENING: Lutz Dammbeck’s ‘The Net: The Unabomber – LSD and the Internet’ (2006).

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COUNTERCULTURE RESEARCH GROUP FILM SCREENING: Lutz Dammbeck’s ‘The Net: The Unabomber, LSD and the Internet’ (2006). Friday 16th November, 6pm, GR05, Faculty of English.

Room GR05, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge 9 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DP
Web site: http://www.english.cam.ac.uk/
The English Faculty is on the Sidgewick Site and can be access from West Road. GR05 is on the ground floor. Come in through the front door and turn right towards the lecture theatre corridor. GR05 is numbered and is the third door along the corridor.
Signs will be posted in the English Faculty on the evening directing people to the room.

———————————————————————
The Counterculture Research Group in association with The Other Cinema, San Francisco, present a screening of Lutz Dammbeck’s ‘The Net: The Unabomber, LSD and the Internet'(2006).
“Ultimately stunning in its revelations, Lutz Dammbeck’s THE NET explores the incredibly complex backstory of Ted Kaczynski, the infamous Unabomber. This exquisitely crafted inquiry into the rationale of this mythic figure situates him within a late 20th Century web of technology – a system that he grew to oppose. A marvellously subversive approach to the history of the Internet, this insightful documentary combines speculative travelogue and investigative journalism to trace contrasting countercultural responses to the cybernetic revolution.
Circling through themes of utopianism, anarchism, terrorism, CIA, LSD, Tim Leary, Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, THE NET exposes a hidden matrix of revolutionary advances, coincidences, and conspiracies.”
—-Craig Baldwin, Other Cinema
The screening is free and open to all. There will be a short introduction by Yvonne Salmon at the start of the film.

CONTEMPORARY RELIGION IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE: ENGAGING OUTSIDE ACADEMIA

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The Open University, Milton Keynes – 15-16 May 2013

What is the relevance of research on historical and contemporary religion for today? How might such research inform current debates on religion, and the practice and self-understanding of religious groups and practitioners? What might historical perspective bring to research on contemporary religion? This conference will address such issues under the broad theme of ‘contemporary religion and historical perspective’. There will be two parallel streams. The first is ‘engaging with the past to inform the present’ and the relevance of religious history for the contemporary context. The second is ‘the public value of research on contemporary religion’; here papers on cross-cultural identities and new religions and popular spiritualities are particularly welcomed.

The backdrop for this conference is the growing acknowledgement that Religious Studies and other disciplines must engage with the wider society. Public ‘engagement’ takes many forms – from extensive projects to ad hoc engagement and involving diverse activities such as media work, lectures, workshops and online engagement. This conference will include practitioner perspectives on different themes, and reflect also on the ways in which academic research on religion might engage with communities of interest and place and private; interact with public and third sector institutions and organisations; and influence public discourse and the social, cultural and environmental well-being of society.

We invite paper and panel proposals for either stream. Papers could include case studies of previous or ongoing outreach, knowledge exchange or public engagement. Topics discussed might include (but are not limited to):

  • integrating ‘religious history’ and contemporary religious practitioners;
  • the relevance of historical research on religion for contemporary debates on religion; and for present-day religious groups, organisations and institutions;
  • intersections between research on contemporary religion and present-day contemporary understanding and practice of religion;
  • the idea of ‘applied’ or ‘public’ Religious Studies;
  • methodological, theoretical and ethical issues relating to Religious Studies and knowledge exchange;
  • relationships between academic and practitioner, or academic institution(s) and non-academic ‘partner’ and their implications and challenges.

Confirmed speakers include Ronald Hutton (Bristol), Steven Sutcliffe (Edinburgh), David Voas (Essex) and John Wolffe (Open University).

The conference is organised by the Open University’s Religious Studies Department.

Cost: £20 per day + £20 for conference dinner on the evening of 15 May. Lunch and refreshments (except conference dinner) are included in the day cost; but we ask attendees to book/fund their own accommodation (advice on local hotels and B&Bs available on request).

Please send proposals to Dr John Maiden (j.maiden@open.ac.uk) by 25 January 2013. To book, please contact Taj Bilkhu (t.bilkhu@open.ac.uk) by 23 March 2013.

PATHWAYS IN MODERN WESTERN MAGIC: edited by NEVILL DRURY

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Announcing a new peer-reviewed sourcebook on the Western Esoteric Tradition:

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Pathways in Modern Western Magic Edited by Nevill Drury

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This authoritative multi-authored volume – with contributions by specialist scholars as well as leading magical practitioners – provides a fascinating overview of the many different pathways that help define esoteric belief and practice in modern Western magic. Included here are chapters on the late 19th century Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the influential Thelemic doctrines of Aleister Crowley, and the different faces of the Universal Goddess in Wicca and the pagan traditions. Also included are chapters on Neo-shamanism in Europe and the United States – and an account of how these traditions have in turn influenced the rise of technoshamanism in the West. Also featured here are insider perspectives on Seidr oracles, hybridised Tantra, contemporary black magic, the Scandinavian Dragon Rouge and Chaos magic in Britain – as well as profiles of the magical artists Ithell Colquhoun, Austin Osman Spare and Rosaleen Norton.

***
Contributors:
Nikki Bado * Jenny Blain * Nevill Drury * Dave Evans * Amy Hale * Phil Hine * Lynne Hume * Marguerite Johnson * Thomas Karlsson * James R. Lewis * Libuše Martínková * Robert J. Wallis * Don Webb * Dominique Beth Wilson * Andrei A. Znamenski

***

CONTENTS
Introduction
Lifting the veil: an emic approach to magical practice LYNNE HUME

*
The visual and the numinous: material expressions of the sacred in contemporary paganism DOMINIQUE BETH WILSON

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Encountering the Universal Triple Goddess in Wicca NIKKI BADO

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Away from the light – dark aspects of the Goddess MARGUERITE JOHNSON

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Neo-shamanism in the United States ANDREI A. ZNAMENSKI

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Neo-shamanism in Europe ROBERT J. WALLIS

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Seidr oracles JENNY BLAIN

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Magical practices in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn NEVILL DRURY

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The Thelemic sex magick of Aleister Crowley NEVILL DRURY

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The Draconian Tradition: Dragon Rouge and the Left-Hand Path THOMAS KARLSSON

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Claiming hellish hegemony: Anton LaVey, The Church of Satan and the Satanic Bible JAMES R. LEWIS

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Modern black magic: initiation, sorcery and the Temple of Set DON WEBB

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The magical life of Ithell Colquhoun AMY HALE

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Two chthonic magical artists: Austin Osman Spare and Rosaleen Norton NEVILL DRURY

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Nothing is true, everything is permitted: Chaos magics in Britain DAVE EVANS

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The computer mediated religious life of technoshamans and cybershamans Libuše Martínková

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The magic wonderland of the senses: reflections on a hybridised Tantra practice PHIL HINE

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Published by Concrescent Scholars http://www.concrescent.net/book/pathways-modern-western-magic

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Contact publisher directly for quantity and book-trade discounts: webster@concrescent.net

***
Individual copies also available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Pathways-Modern-Western-Magic-Nevill/dp/0984372997/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349290662&sr=8-1&keywords=Pathways+in+Modern+Western+Magic 6×9 in., Paperback, 484 pp. ISBN: 978-0-9843729-9-7 *

Esthetics and Spirituality: Places of Interiority: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven – Belgium: call for papers

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CALL FOR PAPERS

Deadline: 1 December 2012

Conference

Esthetics and Spirituality: Places of Interiority

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

16 – 17 – 18 May 2013

In the contemporary Western European world traditional, institutionalized religions are losing ground, while alternative religions, literature and the arts, film and media, as well as commercial enterprises are offering alternatives. Old concepts, symbols and rituals are translated into new forms. This is a recurrent phenomenon: as sensitivities change throughout the ages, the ways to express this changed “interiority” change and result in new manifestations of spirituality.

This multi- and interdisciplinary Conference on Aesthetics and Spirituality looks at how, both in the past and the present, people devise(d) new ways of conceiving and manifesting interiority. In order to look at the forms “interiority” has received throughout the ages we use different approaches: literature, cultural studies, theology, art (iconography/iconology), history (of ideas) and architecture, anthropology, political sciences/sociology, psychology, philosophy…

How do exteriority and interiority relate? What does it mean to be in a place, to be at home in the world or with oneself (cf Pierre Nora,Les lieux de mémoire)? How can urban planning, public and private buildings, furniture and other material things, clothes, prescribed attitudes, etc. be conducive to interiorization (conscious or unconscious reflections, contemplation)? Or, conversely, how can material factors repress interiority (cf repressive political systems)? In order to imagine a topology of interiority that would draw on an inter-disciplinary field of studies and research we invite papers on the different kinds of language which translate outside to inside and vice versa.

If interiority is a question of presence and orientation we need to look at

(a) Bodily expressions: a religious community prescribed a certain body language which could bring about a spirituality (cf. nineteenth-century feminine congregations focusing on nursing, weaving and embroidering); manifold forms of biblical spirituality (Schneider et al) inspire the body, while psychology of religion and psychoanalysis develop ways of reading religious bodies (Vergote, Lacan, Vasse, Moyaert et al).

(b) Expressions through things, images (iconology), words:

-changes in the attitude to relics, books, icons, devotional cards, rosaries, …

-different links between theology, art and literature produce different forms: the “bondieuserie” in France (1850s) differed from Pre-Raphaelite depictions of the divine (criticized by Dickens), or from the Pilgrim’s Movement in Flanders; after the Great War Benedictine spirituality was revived, while Franciscan spirituality brought a new attention for nature and animals in literature; 21st-century ecocriticism brings a new attitude to representations of nature, as do gender studies to aspects of spirituality …

(c) Changes in Ritual, as a means to link physical and metaphysical aspects of experience: which forms of ritual are depicted, developed, in contemporaryl iterature, to mark forgiveness, reconciliation, or other transitions (to adulthood, married life, divorce, healing from sickness, death,…) Which theories of performativity are used in liturgy these days? Which kind of poetics are used in contemporary prayer? How do contemporary political symbols (fail to) develop? (Cf. prevalence of Christian symbols in commemorations of British army casualties et al). Can ritual help in conflict situations, and how are new rituals validated? How do religious institutions relate to the secularization?

(d) Contributions relating to or focusing on Irish topics will be especially welcomed.

Are Celtic symbols still known, used, adapted? How does Irish urbanization, architecture, make space for interiority? How is “interiority” conceived at all in contemporary art and philosophy? Which places, moments, figures, phenomena, concepts, does contemporary film, drama, poetry, fiction, art, hold in special reverence? Does nature (stone, plant, animal) still harbour something sacred, and if so, how? Do angels still figure?

Are there still references to the Jewish, Greek, Christian stories? Is twentieth-century and contemporary art, literature and film reacting or indifferent to this tradition, does it translate archaic symbols (animals and trees, food and drink, textile and books, home and travel, …) into new forms, or does it divest these old icons of their symbolism?

The conference is hosted by the KU Leuven, the Faculties of the Arts, Theology and KADOC (Interfaculty Institute of the KU Leuven for Documentation and Research for Religion, Culture and Society) in cooperation with the Leuven Centre for Irish Studies (LCIS).

It will take place in the newly refurbished Irish college in Leuven (the Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe). The Scientific Committee consists of Barbara Baert (KU Leuven, Arts), Reimund Bieringer (KU Leuven, Theology), Ralph De Koninck (Université Catholique de Louvain, Arts), Jan De Maeyer (KADOC, KU Leuven, History/Heritage), Borbala Farago (Central European University Budapest, Gender Studies), Veerle Fraeters (U Antwerpen, Literature), Christine Göttler (Universität Bern, Arts), Hedwig Schwall (KU Leuven/Kortrijk, Literature), Paul Vandenbroeck (KU Leuven/ Anthropology/Social sciences), Henrik von Aachen (University of Bergen, Norway, Arts)

Papers should not exceed 2500-3000 words (20 minutes’ delivery). Proposals for papers (250 words) and a short biography should be sent by e-mail to

Hedwig Schwall , Hedwig.schwall@arts.kuleuven.be

You will be notified by 20 December.

More information about the conference will be posted on www.irishstudies.kuleuven.be/

THE SUBSTANCE OF SACRED PLACE: Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz: Call for Papers

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THE SUBSTANCE OF SACRED PLACE:  

organised by Laura Veneskey and Annette Hoffmann
20th/21st June 2013

Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut

Call for  Papers

The study of holy places has long been a central concern of not only the humanities, but also the social sciences. Much of this body of scholarship has focused on pilgrimage and sacred centers, either as theoretical constructions or as concrete places, such as Jerusalem, Mecca or Benares. These subjects have been explored, on the one hand, through the study of ritual and liturgy, and on the other, through various modes of representation, be they architectural, cartographic, iconic, or textual. Complementary to these lines of inquiry, we invite papers that explore the material and tactile dimensions of locative sacrality across religious traditions. How is a sense of place communicable through physical means? What can a consideration of matter tell us about the often fraught relationship between the tangible world and its representation?

The


We seek analyses of all materials evocative of a particular sacred milieu, not only earth, dust, stone, but also wood, metal, pigments, oil, or water. Presentations exploring either the substances and places themselves or textual and iconic depictions thereof are equally welcome. We invite papers from all disciplines on any locale conceived of as sacred, whether scriptural, pilgrim, monastic, ascetic, or cultic, between antiquity and the early modern period. The workshop is aimed at young researchers, and is intended to bring together graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and those in the early stages of their teaching or professional careers.

The


Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

The

- Sacred landscapes (deserts, mountains, caves, etc.)

The

- The material dimensions of topographic representation (iconic or textual)

he

- Earthen, geographic, and locative relics

The

- Transportable versus site-specific sanctity – The physicality of built environments and places of worship

The 
Interested applicants should send a current c.v. and an abstract of no more than 250 words (for presentations of twenty minutes) to hoffmann@khi.fi.it andlv2308@columbia.edu).

Proposals must be received by date 30th November 2012.

CHANGING RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS IN A CHANGING WORLD : CESNUR CONFERENCE SWEDEN 2013

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The 2013 CESNUR Conference co-organized by Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR) International Society for the Study of New Religions (ISSNR) Institute for Studies of Religion, Baylor University Finyar (The Nordic Network for the Study of New Religiosity) Dalarna University

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CHANGING RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS

IN A CHANGING WORLD

Dalarna University Falun (Sweden),

21-24 June 2013
http://www.cesnur.org/2013/swe-cfp.htm

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CALL FOR PAPERS
2013 celebrates the 25th anniversary of the first CESNUR conference, held in Southern Italy in 1988, and the opening of INFORM (Information Network Focus on Religious Movements) in the UK.


How has the religious scenario evolved within the context of a changing world over the past 25 years? How are religious movements different today? How does society react differently to religious pluralism?


These will be the themes of the 2013 conference, with special attention being paid to the Nordic countries, contemporary spiritual and esoteric movements in a globalized and transnational perspective, and the reactions of the media, the mainline churches, the law and society in general to the new religious pluralism.


The conference will start on Midsummer Night’s Eve, Friday 21 June 2013, when participants will congregate in Stockholm in the morning and board a bus for a field trip that will take them to culturally significant locations throughout the Swedish region of Dalarna.

Dalarna is famous for its small and picturesque villages, beautiful nature, traditional culture and handicraft. We will first visit Falun’s World Heritage Site and the 17th century part of the town. At that time, Falun was one of the most important towns in Sweden because of its copper mine.

Then we will continue to the old traditional villages around Lake Siljan, stopping on our way at some other places of traditional and cultural importance. The journey will culminate with a traditional Swedish Midsummer Feast in the village of Leksand, before our arrival in Falun late that evening.


The sessions of the conference will run from the morning of Saturday 22 June to the morning of Monday 24 June. On Monday 24 June buses will leave Falun at lunchtime (box lunches will be provided), taking participants either directly to Arlanda Airport in Stockholm or to a visit to Kalle Runristare, a neo-Pagan rune-carver on an island outside Stockholm. This island, Adelsö, is a World Heritage Site with historical importance, where the king lived in the Viking era. The journey ends in Stockholm in the evening.

In this package is included the field trip (including meals) on Friday, lunches from Saturday to Monday, the reception on Saturday night, and the journey back to Arlanda/Stockholm on Monday. Price: 220 euro.


An option will be offered for those who only want to participate in the conference, have the lunches on Saturday and Sunday and attend the banquet on Sunday evening as well as the reception on Saturday night. Participants opting for this package will not be included in any of the field trips and these participants will have to make their own arrangements to reach and leave Falun by train and plan their transfers privately. Price: 120 euro.

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Option 1
Full package, including transportation from Arlanda airport, Stockholm, the field trip on Friday (including meals); lunches; the reception on Saturday evening and the banquet on Sunday evening and either transportation back to Arlanda only or the field trip with arrival in Stockholm on Monday evening: Euro 220.

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Option 2:
Conference attendance only, including lunch on Saturday and Sunday, the Saturday reception and the Sunday banquet (but no field trips or transportation) at: Euro 120.
Papers and sessions proposals should be submitted by email before the close of business on 10 January 2013 to
cesnur_to@virgilio.it, accompanied by an abstract of no more than 300 words and a CV of no more than 200 words. Proposals may be submitted either in English or in French.

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Travelling
We urge you to make your travelling and lodging arrangements as early as possible, as midsummer is a very important holiday in Sweden. Journeys will be cheaper and more available if you book early. For those who arrange their own train journey between Arlanda and Falun, please observe that it is possible to buy train tickets from about three months before the journey, and that the tickets from that time on becomes increasingly expensive. See
www.sj.se .

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Lodging
Scandic Hotel, just beside the university, is offering special prices for our conference guests. The price, inclusive of a generous breakfast, is 700 SEK for a single room (en suite), 800 SEK for a double room (en suite). To get this price, please write the code “Changing Religious Movements”. See
http://www.scandichotels.com/ Hotels/Countries/Sweden/Falun/ Hotels/Scandic-Lugnet/ . Write to falun@scandichotels.com

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A cheaper option is an old prison which has been converted into a youth hostel. Three nights, inclusive of breakfast, in a single room, costs 1250 SEK (sharing a common bathroom). Rooms with several beds cost 950 SEK per person for three nights. To get this price, write the code “Changing Religious Movements”. See
http://www.falufangelse.se/ Write to info@falufangelse.se

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The youth hostel is situated about a 20-minute walk from the university, but is, on the other hand, closer to the town center.
Registration for the conference will open on 15 February 2013.

For full details see  http://www.cesnur.org/2013/swe-cfp.htm

Shakespeare and the Mysteries: Conference: Shakespearean Authorship Trust & Brunel University

Shakeskes

Sunday 18 November 2012

The Shakespearean Authorship Trust,

in collaboration with Brunel University, presents

Shakespeare and the Mysteries The are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy

What are the implications for the Authorship Question of Shakespeare’s profound knowledge of Renaissance Neoplatonic and Hermetic traditions? These are present not only in passing allusions but also in the deep structure of his dramas, open to interpretation as allegories of initiation, transformation and regeneration.

http://www.shakespeareanauthorshiptrust.org.uk/pages/conf.htm

Shakeskes

Speakers:

Ros Barber (The Marlowe Papers)

Julia Cleave (Trustee of the SAT)

Peter Dawkins (The Shakespeare Enigma)

Mark Rylance (Chairman of the SAT)

Susan Sheridan (The Merry Wife of Wilton)

Earl Showerman (President of the Shakespeare Fellowship)

Claire van Kampen (Shakespeare’s Globe Special Advisor on Early Modern Music)

Shakeskes

Date: Sunday 18 November 2012

Time: 11:00 – 18:00 (Tea and coffee available from 10:30) Venue: Shakespeare’s Globe, The Sackler Studios*, on the corner of Bear Gardens and Park Street, Bankside, London, SE1.

Tickets: £35 (including tea and coffee) Booking: Shakespeare’s Globe

Sunday

Box Office Booking opens: 22 October**

*Note change of venue in 2012 due to building of the new indoor Jacobean theatre at the Globe.

**Early booking advised as places are limited

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Draft Programme Schedule

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10:30 Arrivals & Coffee

Shak

11:00 Introduction by Mark Rylance

Shakespeare’s Globe as Sacred Theatre and Cosmic Stage

Shak

11:30 Peter Dawkins

The Lost Word and Swan Song: Rosicrucian and Baconian Themes in Shakespeare’s comedies and romances.

Sunday

12:15 Julia Cleave

Initiations, Transmutations and Resurrection Fables: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Antony & Cleopatra and All’s Well that Ends Well

Sunday

13:00 Lunch

Sunday

14:15 Earl Showerman

Shakespeare’s Physic: Hermetic and Alchemical Magic in The Winter’s Tale, Pericles and All’s Well that Ends Well.

Sunday

15:00 Susan Sheridan

Shaking the Spear: The Hermetic interests of the Sidney/Pembroke Circle with special reference to Cymbeline.

Sunday

15:35 Ros Barber

Death’s A Great Disguiser: Resurrecting Shakespeare.

Shak

16:15 Tea & Cake

Shak

 

16:45 Claire van Kampen

Shakespeare & Divine Proportion: The Tempest & the Music of the Spheres

Shak

17:30 Forum/Q&A

Shak

18:00 Ends

 

Paranthropology: January Issue call for papers

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I found this while looking for an image related to experience SW.  See *Note below.

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 The January 2013 issue of Paranthropology will have the theme of “Thinking About Experience.” Some of the general themes for this issue will include:


* Different ways of talking about experience

* Different ways of interpreting experience

* How to write about personal and social experience meaningfully

* Experience as an aspect of consciousness

* The consequences of taking experience seriously… and so on.


The deadline for submissions to the January issue will be 15th December 2012. Please see www.paranthropology.co.uk for submission guidelines. If you have an idea for an article that you would like to discuss with the editor please get in touch via discarnates@googlemail.com

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* Note

Research in the new discipline of neurocardiology shows that the heart is a sensory organ and a sophisticated center for receiving and processing information. The nervous system within the heart (or “heart brain”) enables it to learn, remember, and make functional decisions independent of the brain’s cerebral cortex. Moreover, numerous experiments have demonstrated that the signals the heart continuously sends to the brain influence the function of higher brain centers involved in perception, cognition, and emotional processing.

 http://newearthdaily.com/our-heart-has-a-mind-of-its-own/

Notice of conferences, books, reviews or events, related to the study of Western Esotericism may be sent to: Sophia Wellbeloved s.wellbeloved@gmail.com

 

RUNNING WITH THE FAIRIES: TOWARDS A TRANSPERSONAL ANTHROPOLOGY OF RELIGION

Running with the Fairies: Towards a Transpersonal Anthropology of Religion is a unique account of the living spirituality and mysticism of fairyfolk in Ireland. Fairyfolk are fairyminded people who have had direct experiences with the divine energy and appearance of fairies, and fairypeople, who additionally know that they have been reincarnated from the Fairy Realm. While fairies have been folklore, superstition, or fantasy for most children and adults, now for the first time in a scholarly work, highly educated persons speak frankly about their religious/spiritual experiences, journeys, and transformations in connection with these angel-like spirit beings. Set in academic and popular historical perspectives, this first scholarly account of the Fairy Faith for over a hundred years, since believer Evans-Wentz’s 1911 published doctoral dissertation The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries, integrates a participatory, going native anthropology with transpersonal psychology. Providing extensive verbatim interviews and discussions, this path-breaking work recognizes the reality of nature spirit beings in a Western context. Through intensive on-site fieldwork, the PhD cultural anthropologist author discovers, describes and interviews authentic mystics aligned with these intermediary deific beings. With an extensive introduction placing fairies in the context of the anthropology of religion, animism, mysticism, and consciousness, this daring ethnography considers notions of belief , perception , and spiritual experience , and with intricate detail extends the focus of anthropological research on spirit beings which previously have been considered as locally real only in indigenous and Eastern cultures.

The book is published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing (2012) in hard cover with 295 pages.

ISBN-10:: 1443838918 

ISBN-13: 978-1443838917

Dennis Gaffin, PhD, is a Professor of Anthropology at the State University of New York College at Buffalo. Gaffin s earlier fieldwork was on the Faeroe Islands. In recent years he has traveled and conducted research primarily in Ireland and India. He teaches comparative religion, cultural ecology, and medical anthropology. In addition to the ethnography In Place: Spatial and Social Order in a Faeroe Islands Community, he has published articles in academic and popular journals.

 

 

A digital edition of Simon Forman’s & Richard Napier’s medical records 1596–1634

Most portrayals of astrologers at work are satirical. This project takes seriously the encounters between the astrologer and his clients. ‘Credulous lady & astrologer’, a colour stipple-engraving by Pierre Simon after John Raphael Smith, c. 1800.

Wellcome Library, London

Simon Forman, the notorious London astrologer, recorded 10,000

consultations between 1596 and 1603. Most of these are medical.

Forman’s casebooks can now be searched by name (of any party

involved), date, sex, age, topic of consultation and many other

criteria. The edition includes images of all the manuscript pages of

Forman’s first volume, and more will follow soon at:

http://www.magicandmedicine.hps.cam.ac.uk

Please send feedback to Dr Lauren Kassell

Department of History & Philosophy of Science

about how you are using the site–and about

how you would like to be able to use it.

hps-casebooks@lists.cam.ac.uk

The Death of Professor Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke

,

This sad news has just come to me in a forwarded email:

It is with great sadness and regret that we must inform our ESSWE colleagues of the death of Professor Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke after a brief illness.  Nicholas was the director of the Exeter Centre for the Study of Esotericism at the University of Exeter, where together with his wife Clare he had built a world-class distance learning institute for postgraduate research in our field. He will also be well known to you all as the author of a number of insightful works on the history of Western esotericism, most notably his books concerning the relation of esotericism to fascist and far-right ideologies. Through his work Nicholas expressed his great love for the history, culture and peoples of both England and Germany, and in the course of a distinguished academic career he brought his considerable intellect to bear upon their respective esoteric traditions. With his passing we have lost a wise and much-loved teacher, an incisive scholarly mind and a jovial and kind-hearted friend.


Hereward Tilton (University of Exeter)

Wouter Hanegraaff (President of ESSWE)

[ link for ESSWE  www.esswe.0rg/ ]

The link below is to Professor Goodrick-Clarke’s Exeter University page

http://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/history/staff/goodrick-clarke/.

CULTURE AND COSMOS – LITERATURE AND THE STARS

Call for Papers:

University of Wales Trinity Saint David

 

http://www.cultureandcosmos.org

Vol. 17 no 1: Literature and the Stars

We are inviting submissions for Vol. 17 no 1 (Spring/Summer 2013) on Literature and the Stars. Papers may focus on any time period or culture, and should deal either with representations of astronomy or astrology in fiction, or studies of astronomical or astrological texts as literature. Contributions may focus on western or non-western culture, and on the ancient, medieval or modern worlds.

Papers should be submitted by NOVEMBER 15, 2012. They should typically not exceed 8000 words length and should be submitted to editors@cultureandcosmos.org. Shorter submissions and research notes are welcome.

Contributors should follow the style guide at

http://www.cultureandcosmos.org/submissions.html

Please include an abstract of c. 100-200 words.

All submissions will peer-reviewed for originality, timeliness, relevance, and readability. Authors will be notified as soon as possible of the acceptability of their submissions.

Culture and Cosmos is published in association with the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Lampeter, Ceredigion, Wales, SA48 7ED, UK.

http://www.trinitysaintdavid.ac.uk/en/sophia/

As from Vol. 17 no 1 Culture and Cosmos will be published open-access, on-line, in the interests of open scholarship. Hard copy will be available via print-on-demand.

COPYRIGHT for UK ACADEMIC & EDUCATIONAL WRITERS UNDER THREAT

One Book and then ….

   Unlimited photocopies

Educational copyright is under threat.

Photocopying helps universities financially. They can buy one copy of a useful book and then copy extracts for their students.  These are used on courses, often for years, and  given to large numbers of students. This is of course a good thing. However, it does mean that authors loose out on royalties from book sales.

Till now authors in the UK have received royalties for these photocopies collected and distributed by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society  but now this copyright  is under threat from the Government’s planned changes to educational copyright.

The recent proposals made in the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth suggest the removal of the ability to license for educational use, if implemented this could effectively eradicate income for educational writers  who rely on the money they receive from copyright licenses.

All Party Parliamentary Writers Group

(see a list of their members)

http://www.allpartywritersgroup.co.uk/Group-members

They are considering copyright legislation and they would like to hear from authors who do not wish to see this change made.

I was kindly invited to a reception given by this group at the House of Lords and talked with members of both Houses. Some said they were ‘quietly confident’ that the proposals could be successfully defeated, which although comforting did not entirely convince me.  I also heard the view that in ‘difficult times we must be fair to universities’  which was worrying.

Sending an email

If you are a writer who does not want this proposal to go through, then it is worth emailing the All Party Parliamentary Writers Group and others who are working hard to make sure educational copyright is retained. Some decision may be made on this during this month or in September, so don’t delay!

Please send with ‘educational copyright’ in the subject line to:

John Whittingdale MP

john.whittingdale.mp@parliament.uk 

Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Writers Group 

with copies to the following organisations who are working to protect writers, they will be glad to hear from you:

Society of Authors

http://www.societyofauthors.org/

Intellectual Property Rights – Copyright

http://www.ipo.gov.uk/  

any educational writers you know who’d like to email

and to:

 

Ed Vaizey Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries

vaizeye@parliament.uk

 

In Janet Anderson’s interview with Ed Vaizey – Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries  – he says:

I do take intellectual property rights very seriously, and am keen to enforce them.  I think there is a view that the content of a book or a CD is somehow intangible, and so not property in the way that this glass or this coffee cup is property.  But if somebody walked into this interview and started taking pictures off the wall, we’d call the police.

Read more at:

http://www.alcs.co.uk/ALCS-News/ALCS-July-2012/Ed-Vaizey-Interview

The Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries talks to Janet Anderson about PLR, libraries and why he asked David Cameron for the job?

Two fully-funded PhD studentships for ANCIENT EGYPTIAN DEMONOLOGY PROJECT: SECOND MILLENNIUM BC

Published in: Demons and Spirits in Egyptian Magic

Ancient Egyptian Demonology Project: Second Millennium BC

Academic Supervisor: Dr Kasia Szpakowska

Two fully-funded PhD studentships form part of a three-year research project funded by the Leverhulme Trust entitled Ancient Egyptian Demonology Project: Second Millennium BC.

Demons abound in the media today-from tales of possession to the labelling of political policies as demonic, to the channelling of spirits for healing.

Some of the most prevalent rituals in the ancient and modern world are those designed to target demons and those that call upon their superhuman power for benefit. But thus far, there has been no comprehensive systematic study of benevolent and malevolent demonic entities in Ancient Egypt. This project, Demonology 2K, applies Second Millennium AD technology to create a classification and ontology of those supernatural entities we will call demons, and the means used to harness their powers in Ancient Egypt during the Second Millennium BC. The approach combines archaeological, iconographic, and philological analysis of specific material, representational, and textual evidence. The research is data-driven, and includes the development of an interactive collaborative database and website.

This project illuminates the darker and more private side of Ancient Egyptian religion that impacted daily lives, driving individuals to perform rituals and to access divine beings, with or without priestly assistance.

The PhD studentships are available from 2 January 2013.

Applicants must have:

demonstrated Egyptological expertise

ability to work with both texts and artefacts familiarity with and desire to study Middle to New Kingdom religion reading knowledge of German and French Digital expertise will be integral to one of the studentships detailed below.

Please provide details in your statement of interest of experience of working with:

relational databases

quantification

Web 2.0 (interactive websites, blogs, virtual spaces) multimedia

The PhD studentships differ in expertise as follows:

PhD 1 should have a particular interest in working with artefacts and have a solid archaeological background both in terms of theory and post-excavation analysis. The successful student/candidate will focus on the material evidence, in particular types identified as primary targets for the project: apotropaia, inscribed headrests, and figurines. The student should have demonstrated aptitude for working with excavation reports (recent and dated) as well as museum and collections searching; be familiar with materials and technology; have a background in the archaeology of religion; and a dedicated attention to detail.

PhD 2 must be fluent in reading Middle Egyptian and have a background in reading religious compositions (ideally Coffin Texts and magical papyri).

The successful student/candidate will be responsible for a relational examination of hostile and demonic entities encountered in the texts. The investigation must be contextual, and take into account associated imagery, findspots, the location of imagery and text in relation to each other and on each individual coffin, time period, and status, gender and identity of the owner. Because most of the Coffin Texts have different versions, the candidate must be skilled in reading the texts to spot differences and similarities. The student must also have a thorough rounding in Egyptian religion in general in order to be able to achieve a nuanced understanding of the texts, as well as being able to undertake literal translation.

Both Ph.D.’s are based in the Department of History and Classics, College of Arts and Humanities. The successful candidate will join a vigorous and friendly postgraduate community supported by theGraduate Centre for Arts and Humanities at Swansea University.

The Academic Supervisor will be Dr. Kasia Szpakowska, a specialist in Ancient Egyptian private religious practice and co-founder of the international Ancient Egyptian Demonology Project.

Applicants must have an MA or equivalent qualification, obtained or due to be obtained by October 2012, in any relevant discipline.

Preliminary application materials consist of:

academic CV

1-2 page expression of interest (include why you are interested, a bit about your background and how you fulfil the brief) research proposal (no more than 1200 words or 5 pages) focussing on one of the areas (or both if you have no preference) referee information (names, contact details, and emails of 2 referees)

Both Ph.D.’s are based in the Department of History and Classics, College of Arts and Humanities. The successful candidate will join a vigorous and friendly postgraduate community supported by the Graduate Centre for Arts and Humanities at Swansea University. The Academic Supervisor will be Dr. Kasia Szpakowska, a specialist in Ancient Egyptian private religious practice and co-founder of the international Ancient Egyptian Demonology Project.

Applicants must have an MA or equivalent qualification, obtained or due to be obtained by October 2012, in any relevant discipline.

Preliminary application materials consist of:

academic CV

1-2 page expression of interest (include why you are interested, a bit about your background and how you fulfil the brief) research proposal (no more than 1200 words or 5 pages) focussing on one of the areas (or both if you have no preference) referee information (names, contact details, and emails of 2 referees)

CHANGING BELIEFS AND SCHISMS IN NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS

INFORM Seminar XLIX

CHANGING BELIEFS AND SCHISMS

IN NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS

Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building,

London School of Economics, Saturday 1 December 2012

http://www.lse.ac.uk/resources/mapsAndDirections/howToGetToLSE.htm

To register: WE ARE NOW TAKING PAYPAL BOOKINGS: http://www.inform.ac/seminar-payment

Or post a booking form (attached) and a cheque payable to ‘Inform’ to Inform, Houghton St., London WC2A 2AE.

(Inform@lse.ac.uk; 020 7955 7677).

Tickets (including buffet lunch, coffee and tea) paid by 12 November 2012 cost  £38 each (£18 students/unwaged).

NB. Tickets booked after 12 November 2012 will cost £48 each (£28 students/unwaged).

A limited number of seats will be made available to A-Level students at £10 before 12 November 2012 (£20 after 12 November). A party of 5 or more A-Level students from one school can include one member of staff at the same price.

PROVISIONAL PROGRAMME 

The presence of speakers on an Inform programme does not mean that Inform endorses their position. 

The aim of Inform Seminars is to help participants to understand, or at least recognise, different perspectives.

For Inform’s codes of practice see http://www.Inform.ac

9.30-9.50    Registration and coffee

9.50-10.00   Welcome and Introduction

10.00-10.25   Eileen Barker (Professor Emeritus, LSE; Chair & Honorary Director, Inform)

Re-vision and Division in New Religions: Some Introductory Remarks”

10.25-10.50   Claire Borowik (Co-Director of the Worldwide Religious News Service, and member of The Family International)

The Family International: Rebooting for the Future”

10.50-11.15   J. Gordon Melton (Distinguished Professor of American Religious History at Baylor University) 

When Science Intervenes—Revising Claims in the New Age”

11.15-11.45 Coffee

11.45-12.10   Pat Ryan and Joe Kelly (International Cultic Studies Association; ex-members of TM and Society of Divine Love)

Transcendental Meditation and Swami Prakashananda Saraswati”

12.10-12.35   Susan Palmer (Lecturer in Religious Studies, Dawson College / Concordia University)

Dr. Malach Z. York’s Spiritual Divagations”

12.35-13.00   Masoud Banisadr (PhD in chemical engineering and engineering mathematics, and former member of MEK)

The Metamorphism of MEK (Mujahedin e Khalgh) and its Schism”

13.00-14.00 Lunch

14.00-14.25   James Tong (Professor of Political Science, University of California, Los Angeles)

The Re-Invented Wheel: Revisioning and Diversification in the Falun Gong, 1992-2012”

14.25-14.50   Mike Mickler (Professor of Church History, Unification Theological Seminary)

 “The Post-Sun Myung Moon Unification Church”

14.50-15.15   Eugene Clay (Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Arizona State University)

Mother of God Derjavnaja / The New Cathar Church”

15.15-15.45 Tea

15.45-16.10   Eugene Gallagher (Rosemary Park Professor of Religious Studies, Connecticut College)                      

The Branch Davidians”

16.10-16.35   Massimo Introvigne (Lawyer and Managing Director of CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions), Turin

Mormon Origins – Revisionism or Re-Interpretation?”

16.35-17.15 Panel Discussion

Call for papers: Societas Magica sessions IMC Kalamazoo

Societas Magica

Call for papers Societas Magica sessions IMC Kalamazoo

Sat Jul 7, 2012 7:34 pm (PDT)

The Societas Magica invites abstracts for four sessions to be held at

the next International Congress on Medieval Studies Kalamazoo, MI, 9-13

May 2013. The four sponsored sessions are:

Session I – Astrology and Magic (co-sponsored with the Research Group on

Manuscript Evidence)

Contact: Dr. David Porreca (University of Waterloo) dporreca@uwaterloo.ca

Session II – Magic, Material Culture and Technology (co-sponsored with

the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence)

Contact: László Sándor Chardonnens (Radboud University Nijmegen)

s.chardonnens@let.ru.nl

Session III – Water as Symbol, Sign and Trial: Aquatic Semantics in the

Middle Ages (co-sponsored with the Reseach Group on Manuscript Evidence)

Contact: Mihai-D. Grigore (University of Erfurt) grigoremihai@gmx.de

Session IV – Magical Practices in Pre-Modern China

Contact: Dimitri Drettas (Collège de France) hedansi@yahoo.fr

If you have material suitable to one of these topics, please send an

abstract (ca. 250 words) electronically to the contact person listed for

that session by 15 September 2012 along with the Participant Information

Form.

More detailed information about the sessions and a link to the

participant information form may be found at www.societasmagica.org

48TH INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ON MEDIEVAL STUDIES

48TH INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ON MEDIEVAL STUDIES

CFP: Technical Communication in the Middle Ages

48th International Congress on Medieval Studies

May 9-12, 2013

Western Michigan University

Kalamazoo MI

Scholars have long recognized Chaucer’s “Treatise on the Astrolabe” as an early technical document, yet few  similar medieval texts have been discussed as specimens of  technical communication. This session seeks to consider  the traditions and conventions of medieval technical  communication, as well as the connections between medieval and contemporary technical writing.

Possible texts for  consideration might include (but are not limited to)

penitential and conduct manuals,

monastic rules,

business correspondence,

medical treatises,

scientific and pseudo-scientific manuals (including alchemical and astrological ones),

cookery books,

law codes,

government and military documents.

Papers should consider the texts as technical communication, but may focus either on any aspect, including writing, layout, design, etc. 

Please submit abstracts of about 300 words to

Wendy Hennequin:  whennequin@tnstate.edu

by September 15, 2012.

MAPPING THE OCCULT CITY: EXPLORING MAGICK AND ESOTERICISM IN THE URBAN UTOPIA

Call For Papers, Presentations, Workshops, Rituals and Performances

Mapping the Occult City: Exploring Magick and Esotericism in the Urban Utopia

A pre-conference for the Annual Meeting of the

American Academy of Religions in Chicago, 

Friday November 16, 2012,

presented by Phoenix Rising Academy and DePaul University.

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Description:

In his classic essay, “Walking in the City,” ethnologist and historian Michel de Certeau distinguished between the “exaltation of a scopic and gnostic drive” that comes from viewing the city from a high vantage point and the quotidian negotiations of the walker at street level, who creates his or her own map, takes shortcuts and resists the strategies of typical urban planning. One perspective is totalizing and distancing, constructing an illusory, unified view of the metropolis, while the other seeks out hidden avenues of knowledge and intersections of stories, myths, and happenings. The occultist tends to shift between both views, sometimes spinning grand narratives of the city as a New Atlantis, a utopian civilization of knowledge and wonder, other times imagining a secret world of dark mysteries, unknown to most passersby, that lay just beyond the twilight of the streetlamps. Many esotericists, conspiracy theorists, and urban fantasy authors have speculated on the occult meaning of symbols, monuments, and architecture in major cities, from Cleopatra’s Needle in London to the Washington Monument in Washington D.C. Or they see powerful sigils in the neon signs, building facades and billboards. Some speak of urban ley lines and “energy centers” that bubble with occult power ready to be tapped into by those with the right sense and ability. These energy centers are focused on geometric street patterns or the lines created by the placement of sacred sites in the city, such as churches, temples, and cemeteries. Others speak of haunted places, charged with story and legend, often full of the sense of violence, trauma and the urgency of events that occurred there.

Historically, cities have been home to countless esoteric groups who have met, planned, and conducted ritual within the towering buildings that glitter the metropolitan skyline. For instance,  Chicago, the location of this year’s AAR conference, was once the home of the 32 floor Masonic Building, owned by the Illinois Freemasons, and the tallest building in the world in 1892. Prominent figures in the esoteric world have spoken, performed and offered their wisdom to the masses through the many salons, lectures, performances, congregations, conferences, and world’s fairs that have been either publicly advertised or available only to those with the right password and invitation.

Cities are where the ideas of Western esotericism spread to the masses through these public events and the many urban publishing houses. Cities are also home to public events and happenings that connect the esoteric, the theatrical and the political world through protest and public actions and happenings, such as the W.I.T.C.H. protests at Chicago’s Federal Building on Halloween 1969. Finally, cities are centers of diversity and diaspora and often become hothouses for the development of hybrid traditions based on immigrant cultures, such as Santeria and Vodun.

For scholars of magick and esotericism, cities like Chicago can offer up rich resources for tracking group activities and events through library archives and public records. Understanding occult life in the city, in both its historical and contemporary contexts, is crucial in mapping the proliferation of ideas and connections between practitioners and traditions. Popular practical texts have addressed how the practice of magick changes in an urban setting, especially when the magician or witch must adapt a nature-centered practice to a city-based practice. Investigating esoteric actions in the city can reveal the ways in which the practitioner is caught up and complicit with strategic structures of power while also offering possibilities for the occultist to resist those structures through the kind of tactical, magical  moves described by de Certeau. As the Occupy movement and other political protests proliferate, especially in America’s election year, what are the possibilities for harnessing and directing the energy of the occult city?

Phoenix Rising Academy would like to explore these intersections of the esoteric and the urban, focusing on the city as a locus for power and knowledge, both hidden and revealed. Are cities oppressive entities that stifle creative and esoteric drives or do they hold in their structures the  otential for powerful action? To this end, we invite scholars and practitioners to submit proposals for papers, presentations, rituals and performances that address these questions pertaining to the occult city. Though our focus is primarily on American cities, particularly Chicago, we welcome explorations in other prominent global metropolitan centers.

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Structure:

For this pre-conference, we plan on creating 2-3 panels of papers,

presentations, performances, rituals, workshops, roundtables, or

discussion groups. Possible topics may include (but are not limited to):

· The activities of certain groups, traditions, and communities, both historical and contemporary, in particular cities.

· The city life of prominent esoteric figures and how that city life shaped their ideas and practices.

· Particular events, meetings, lectures,  performances, happenings, protests whose urban setting featured prominently in their execution and influence.

· The mythology of the occult city, based on legend, occult symbolism, and esoteric symbolism of architecture and urban planning.

· A practical approach to working magick and ritual in the city, perhaps based on Urban Shamanism or Chaos Magick.

· Interpretations of the city and its occult power by urban fantasy authors.

· The intersections of the occult and the political through the use of ritualized protest actions, focusing on setting and urban scene.

· Though not focusing on hauntings per se, an investigation of spiritualism, mysticism and psychic practices prominent in urban settings.

· A study of how hereditary or hybridized indigenous practices survive, evolve and adapt in an urban setting.

With your submission, please include the following:

Presenter information (name, mailing and email addresses, phone number)

Type of presentation (paper, non-paper presentation, workshop,

performance, roundtable).

Note: if you are proposing a roundtable discussion, please submit info for all participants.

Title and affiliation (institution, organization, independent scholar,

or practitioner).

Proposal or abstract (not to exceed 250 words). Should include title of presentation and a clear description of the presentation’s intent, plus

any audio/visual needs. Biographical data (not to exceed 200 words).

Contact and submissions:

Please email all submissions by August 20th to:

Dr. Jason L. Winslade

DePaul University

jwinslad@depaul.edu

Conference website:

http://phoenixrising.org.gr/en/3932/call-for-papers-presentations-workshops-rituals-and-performances-mapping-the-occult-city-exploring-magick-and-esotericism-in-the-urban-utopia/

Please include “PRA Pre-Conference” in the subject line. All submissions

will be reviewed and you will be notified of a decision one week after

the deadline.

CONFERENCE: Charming Intentions – Occultism – Magic and the History of Art

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This two-day graduate conference will investigate the intersections between visual culture and the occult tradition, ranging from the material culture of ‘primitive’ animism, through medieval and Renaissance depictions of witchcraft and demonology, to the contemporary fascination with the supernatural in popular culture.

The conference aims to provide a stimulating arena for the presentation of innovative research in this field as well as to offer a vibrant and thought-provoking forum for scholarly discussion and exchange. We welcome papers from current and recent graduate students from all disciplines, provided their research engages with material, visual or symbolic aspects of magic and occultism.

Acceptable topics include, but are by no means limited to, the following areas:

* The sacred and the profane;

* The material culture of magic, ritual and sacrifice;

* Objects of totemic, apotropaeic or fetishistic character;

* Aspects of mysticism in Jewish, Christian and Islamic art and architecture;

* Satanism, witchcraft and demonology; * Sacred geometry, numerology and cosmology;

* The arcane sciences (including astrology, alchemy and the tarot game);

* Art-theoretical discussions of the spiritual, the sublime, the marvellous, the numinous and the uncanny;

* Artistic investigations of myth, fantasy and utopia;

* Visual aspects of occult movements such as Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, Theosophy, Mesmerism, Spiritism and New Age Spirituality;

* The supernatural and the spiritual in modern and contemporary art; * Occultism and magic in contemporary popular culture.

N.B.: Presentations should not exceed a maximum of 20 minutes and will be followed by a 10-minute Q&A session. The sessions will be chaired by senior scholars within the University of Cambridge’s History of Art Department. We also hope to publish selected conference papers in a book of proceedings.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be sent to:

 charming.intentions@gmail.com

alongside a CV of 1-2 pages.

Deadline for submission is the 30th of September 2012.

All abstracts will be peer-reviewed and successful applicants will be notified about acceptance of their papers before the 15th of October 2012.

Early applications are strongly encouraged.

The Conference Committee

Josefine Baark, PhD Candidate, Homerton College Gabriel Byng, PhD Candidate, Clare College Imma Ramos, PhD Candidate, Pembroke College Daniel Zamani, PhD Candidate, Trinity College.

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CONFERENCE PROGRAMME

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Day 1: Monday, 3 December 2012

09.30 – 10.00 Registration at

History of Art Department’s Graduate Centre on 4A Trumpington Street

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10.00 – 10.05 Welcome address (Daniel Zamani & Dr Alexander Marr)

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10.05 – 11.00 Keynote Lecture

Dr Urszula Szulakowska (University of Leeds)

The Sexualisation of the Virgin Mary: Hieratic Religious Art in an Alchemical Context

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11.00 – 11.30 Coffee Break

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11.30 – 1.00 Panel 1: The Christian Middle Ages Convenor: Dr Anna Gannon

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Emily Goetsch (University of Edinburgh)

Demonising the Other”: Spanish Apocalyptic Images of Evil as a Way of Promoting Christianity in Tenth-Century Beatus Manuscripts

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Orsolya Mednyanzky (Tufts University, Medford)

Protecting the Sacred Script: A Cross in Glory in a Late Medieval Armenian Gospel Book

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Monika Winiarczyk (University of Glasgow)

‘Homo Signorum': Looking to God or Looking to the Stars? The Role of Astrology in Medieval Christianity

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1.00 – 2.00 Lunch Break

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2.00 – 3.30 Panel 2: Islam and Hinduism Convenor: Rachel Parikh

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Anja R. Dreiser (University of Bamberg)

Magic Mirrors from the Islamic World

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Alexandra Plesa (Leiden University)

Pots That Bless: Pious Inscriptions on Samanid Pottery in Dutch Collections

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Shandra E. Lamaute (University of Edinburgh)

A Printed Islamic Amulet

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Imma Ramos (University of Cambridge)

Impurity, Auspiciousness and Power: The Tantric Transformations of Lajja Gauri at Kamakhya

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3.30 – 4.00 Coffee Break

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4.00 – 5.00 Panel 3: Early Modern Europe I Convenor: Prof. Jean Michel Massing

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Liliana Leopardi (Hobert and William Smith Colleges, NY)

Renaissance Magic Precious and Semi-Precious Stones: the Fetish as a

path to Pyschological Integrity

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Nikola Piperkov (Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne)

Et procul in tenuem ex oculis euanuit auram: Natural Magic and Divine Word in Giambologna’s Statue of Mercury

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Day 2: Tuesday, 4 December 2012

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10.00 – 11.00 Panel 4: Early Modern Europe II Convenor: Dr Alexander Marr

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Alexandra Marraccini (University of Chicago)

Open Secrets: Alchemical-Hermetic Iconography in the Ripley Scrolls

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Marthe Kretzschmar (Technische Universitaet Hamburg)

Waxwork. Aby Warburg’s “Bildzauber” between materiality and resemblance

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11.00 – 11.30 Coffee Break

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11.30 – 1.00 Panel 5: Great Britain Convenor: Josefine Baark

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Stephanie Churms (Aberystwyth University)

Drawn by the Magician’s Wand”: The Occult Culture of Revolutionary Caricature

Lauren Greer (University of Saint-Thomas, MN)

Glamour: A Dissection of John Anster Fitzgerald’s Fairyland

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Heather Carroll (University of Edinburgh)

Art not without ambition’: Lady Melbourne, the Duchess of Devonshire and Mrs. Damer as The Three Witches from Macbeth

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1.00 – 2.00 Lunch Break

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2.00 – 3.30 Panel 6: Surrealism Convenor: Dr Karolina Watras

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Daniel Zamani (University of Cambridge)

Alchemy & Empowerment in Victor Brauner’s Appropriation of the Tarot Magician

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Kristina Rapacki (Courtauld Institute, London)

Deicide, Regicide, Suicide: Bataille, Acephale and the Sovereign

Victoria Camblin (University of Cambridge)

Ritual and the Wagnerism of Acéphale (1936-1939)

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3.30 – 4.00 Coffee Break

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4.00 – 5.30 Panel 7: The 20 th Century Convenor: Elizabeth Upper

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Adele Gardener (University of Bristol)

Art, Invocation and Alchemy: The Tarot Paintings of Lady Frieda Harris

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Lisa Hanstein (Art-Historical Institute, Florence)

Unseen Spirits? Occult Aspects of Italian Futurist Art & Theory

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Judith Noble (Arts University College, Bournemouth)

Ritual and Invocation: Occultism in the Films of Maya Deren and Kenneth Anger

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5.30 – 5.35 Closing Remarks (Gabriel Byng)

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5.35 – 7.00 Wine reception

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Close of conference

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Conference University of Aberdeen: SECOND SIGHT AND PROPHECY

Conference University of Aberdeen

14-16 June 2013

 

Conference organised by the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy, and the Elphinstone Institute at the University of Aberdeen; sponsored by the Folklore Society

This interdisciplinary conference welcomes participants from a range of academic disciplines including History, Folklore, Anthropology, Divinity and Sociology whose research interests cover a wide range of topics exploring varying methods used by different cultures (both now and in the past) to look into the future and the rationale for so doing. The future has always held a fascination for humankind especially in times of tribulation and this is worthy of academic discussion in light of the changes affecting so many of us in our current global context. The role in culture of seers and prophets, by whatever name they are known, and the use of rituals, drugs and sacred sites, etc. will be examined.

Abstracts of 300 words are invited on any of the following or related topics.

These should be submitted by 15 November 2012 to the conference convenor, Dr Alex Sutherland, History Department, University of Aberdeen;

 a.m.sutherland@abdn.ac.uk mailto:a.m.sutherland@abdn.ac.uk

Papers might address:

Astrology and its rationale(s) for predicting the future.

Biblical prophecy as depicted in the arts.

Divination in any form.

English attitudes to second sight.

Healing wells.

How modern scientists have appropriated the persona of the prophet or visionary seer.

Landscape and prophecy in art.

Old Norse and later Scandinavian sources on prophecy.

Popular Catholic belief in prophecy before and after the Reformation.

Prophecy in Native American tribes.

Prophetic utterances by the courts, commoners, and the church.

Reading the future in the landscape of settlements.

Renaissance science and astrology.

Sami shamanism.

Second sight and prophecy in Scottish Gaeldom.

Second sight and prophecy in the Viking world.

Second sight in Gaelic traditions as they survived and evolved in Nova Scotian communities.

Seers and seeresses in medieval Icelandic saga literature.

The early Islamic world & its connections with astrology.

The role of prophecies, visions and dreams in poetry and allegorical tales.

The role of prophecy in the origins of Islam, in the pre-Islamic Arabian environment

The use of sites, dreams and ancestors for prophecies by indigenous peoples.

Visual and verbal imagery of natural objects as coded language for the use of entheogens to attain divine / prophetic knowledge.

Welsh prophetic poetry.

When prophecy fails.

Sophia Wellbeloved reviews: THE NEW AGE OF RUSSIA

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THE NEW AGE OF RUSSIA: OCCULT AND ESOTERIC DIMENSIONS

edited Birgit Menzel, Michael Hageneister and Bernice Glazzeer Rosenthatl

SLCCEE, Volume17, – Berlin,Verlag Otto Sagner 2011

Hardcover, 451 pages,

Select Bibliography Michael Hagemeister

Twelve illustrations

ISBN 978-3-86688-197-6)

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This volume is divided into four sections:

Prerevolutionary Roots and Early Soviet Manifestations  (five chapters)

Manifestations in the Soviet Period (1930 – 1985)  (four chapters)

The Occult Revival in Late and Post Soviet Russia (1985 to the Present) (seven chapters)

Comparative Aspects, Continuity and Change (two chapters)

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Birgit Menzel provides a comprehensive introduction. Especially useful in addition to her summaries of individual chapters are some of the reasons she gives why the borders between science, religion and the occult in Russia have differed from those in the West, along with other difficulties for researchers in these fields. Some, as may be imagined, are due to the search for scattered material, some arise from language and translation differences between scholars. Others which must pose considerable problems are due to differences in terminology:

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The terms Occult and New Age have been rejected by most Russian members of, what I will call here the occult underground,(p 18).

[and ]

Terms defined in Western scholarship need modification, or further explanation when applied to Russian material, (p 19).

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Specialist and General Readers

My own reading of The New Age in Russia is from the perspectives of both the specialist and general reader. I fit into both categories, having some specialist knowledge of G. I. Gurdjieff and Fourth Way teachings, but little background in Russian studies.

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Although primarily a book for the specialist reader in Russian 20th century studies in relation to occultism and esotericism, this collection of essays which examines the origins and influences that formed the kaleidoscope of changing networks of esoteric and occult teachings, their interaction with changing political establishments, together with the prevailing political and international geo-political conditions, will also be of value to the general reader.

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There are two factors which, without in any way lessening the value of individual essays, may cause the non-specialist reader to take things slowly. The first is because the time indicated in the first three sections starts in the late eighteenth century and ends in ‘the present’, that is 2012, however; the essays could not be expected to form a sequential series. Most of the scholars need to establish what is happening before the period they focus on, and as the author of the introduction tells us some overlapping is inevitable. The effect of this on a reader who starts at the beginning and continues on sequentially is a kind of dizzy slippage as time seems to moves forwards, backwards and then forward once more. This displacement of the reader is intensified by the change in focus from essay to essay. Some offer a wide lens view of their subject matter whilst others present more of a close up.

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The second factor is that much of the subject matter, the influence of esoteric and occult teachings, their sources and backgrounds, the lineages of esoteric and occult teachings together with their relation to cultural influence, political actions and reactions, occur throughout most of the essays, and some of the same people occur in one, two or more essays albeit from differing perspectives and emphasis. For example, my own area of interest as mentioned above, is in Gurdjieff studies and the accounts given here have usefully expanded and repositioned my own understanding, placing him and his ideas in a common context relating to life in Russia before the flight to Europe and America. But these references occur in a number of different essays. Although there are some useful pointers within essays to related chapters, an index would have helped me to navigate this and other subject matters.

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New Age and New Identity

The overall impression given by these essays is that Russia was seeking a ‘New Age’ and a new identity for itself during the whole of the period covering at least the century from the 1880s to the 1980s, which saw almost continual turmoil, revolt, and repression manifesting in ways which often ran counter to uninformed Western assumptions. Russians faced a continuing need for redefinitions of interrelated forms of identity: at individual, local, national, and international levels, together with the simultaneous and contradictory need to preserve, hide or obliterate these identities. All of which makes for a tendency towards multiple, separate, blurred, ambiguous or contradictory personal and ideological identities in Russia.

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For example Jeffrey Kripal in his On Reading Russian Mystical Literature Upside Down (pp 421 – 431) reminds us of:

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the multiple censorship of the mystical,‘ [citing the] ‘almost total annihilationof members of the secret society the United Workers’ Brotherhood shot during the Great Terror 1937 – 38, (p 427).

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This might accord with stereotyped Western expectations. However: we learn from Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal that:

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In the 1920s and early ’30s, the secret police worked with the occultist Barchenko [of the United Worker's Brotherhood] and the government funded Roerch’s search for Shamhala. In the 1960s and ’70s, the government denounced yoga as spiritual contraband, even while studying yogic breathing techniques, that could help astronauts, and it supported research on parapsychology, (Occultism as a Response to a Spiritual Crisis,p 400).

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The activities of Barchenko and Roerich are each the subject of essays. Barchenko in Oleg Shishkin’s The Occultist Aleksandr Barchenko and the Soviet Secret Police (1923-1938)(pp 81-100), and Nicholas Roerich in Markus Osterrieder’sFrom Synarchy to Shambhala: The Role of Political Occultism and Social Messianism in the Activities of Nicholas Roerich(pp 101-134)

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The Illustrations

The illustrations are a welcome and instructive addition to the text. Two of the images in colour are Married by Satan (1917) p 47, and KonstantineTsiolkovskii. A Polish lacquer miniature, ca. (1980) p 150. Both suggest a close association between the erotic and the occult/esoteric.

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The first, a poster for the film looks more like the sexual assault of a naked helpless woman by demons than a marriage, and appears in Julia Mannherz’s The Occult and Popular Entetainment in late Imperial Russia (pp 29-51). She explores ambivalent attitudes to the supernatural which nevertheless appeared as commercial attractions in newspapers.

Even instruction manuals and occult journals mirrored the same ambivalent attitudes … the boundaries were even more blurred in the circus arena, on stage or on the silver screen. In the performing arts, the rational and the mysterious merged within single productions, (p 38).

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[Artist Kukulieva Kaleriya Vasillievna b 1937]

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The portrait of Tsiolkovskii (1857-1935), regarded as the father of space travel, was made forty-five years after his death when ‘he had been made into a hero by Soviet propoganda‘. See see Michael Hagemeister’s essay Konstantine Tsiolkovskii and the Occult Roots of Soviet Space Travel (pp 135-150) which shows that Tsiolkovskii ‘s scientific resaerch into space travel was but a means to his esoteric ends which while they aimed for cosmic evolution leading to imortality demaded the horrifying notion of the destruction of all imperfect human beings, animals and most plants. Hagemeister writes that ‘The magical-esoteric understanding of science and technology is still prevalent in today’s Russia‘ p 148).

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The image shows him sitting with his feet on plans for space rockets, behind him a table of scientific equiment, and behind that again a dark sky with a suggestion of constellations and of the zodiac. His male sexual power has been emphasised by the use of phalic imagery (the rocket, his leg, the drapery), which here unites his career in both rocket science and esotericism, although, as we learn from the essay referred above, he ‘condemned sexual reproduction as ‘humiliating‘, p 139).

 

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Two black and white portraits emit extremes that express the times they belong in. The first on page 23 showing Gleb Ivanovich Bokii (1897-1937) in 1918, so thirty-nine or forty years old, looks more like a painting than a photograph and seen on the page it combines extreme contrasts between black and white to show the left side of the image with a dark face against a light halo shaped background and the right side of the face bright against a dark background, the ear seems to be pointed, the eyes glance upward showing white rims underneath in a way that, for those familiar with them, are remeniscent of images of Gurdjieff. This seems a staged image of occult/esoteric power but is of a member of the OGPU (the principal secret police agency responsible for the detection, arrest, and liquidation of anarchists [...] in the early Soviet Union, (see note below) who was nevertheless attracted by esotericim. This image suggests the crossover, and/or interconnections between notions of political and occult power .

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The second striking image on p 178, is that of “Tosha” (Vladimir Shuktomv (1957-1987)), this is most probably a photograph which has a degenerating grainy surface quality that is also clearly of the time when dissidents transfered their allegence from political ideology to the rock music of Boris Brebenshikov and the couter-culture (see p 178).

I’ve given attention here to some of the illustrations because in my view though valuable additions, these are mostly underused and undervalued in academic texts.

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Cultural Influences

Russian culture was influenced both by esotericism and occultism, and by politics throughout the periods examined in The New Age of Russia, and I have not attempted a summary of what are in effect a series of summaries of the complex inter-relation of these influences. In brief, areas looked at include medicine, academic institutions and classifications, science, space travel, interplanetary travel, utopia, technology, science fiction, novels, popular culture, theatre, cinema, Shamanism, Tibetan Buddhism, Neo-Hinduism, Eastern mysticism, Theosophy, parapsychology, and Transpersonal Psychology, amongst others.

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Occult and New Age Movements in Russia from the 1960 s to the 1980s (pp151-185)

Birgit’ Menzel’s essay enables us to trace the complex paths taken from the first of these dates to the second, to acknowledge Russian connections with the East. and on the way to revise general Western assumptions about the New Age in Russia.

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Although there were some similarities with the New Age in Western countries: an interest in changing states of consciousness, experimentation with psychedelic mushrooms, (Castaneda’s writings arrived in Russia) and a love of rock music, this overview shows that there were also major differences and that these are worth understanding. She writes that the state system supported research into the occult or paranormal which would not have been regarded as science in the West, that the Russian New Age was mostly a province of the predominantly male intelligentsia, while in the West it was transmitted via popular culture. Western interest in sexuality and in perfecting the body, via diet, yoga, homoeopathy, and sexual expression. did not occur in Russia where the occult underground was more cerebral, with a stronger emphasis on theory than practice, ‘the ultimate goal was ridding oneself of the body rather than unifying, body mind and soul‘ ( p 185).

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Comparative Aspects, Continuity and Change.

In the first essay of the fourth section of the book Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal writes about Occultism as a Response to a Spiritual Crisis, (pp 391-420), covering a series of spiritual crises causes by the loss of faith in specific ‘myths’, or ‘all encompassing ideas’ to live by during the period from prerevoutionary and early Soviet Russia, through to Late and Post-Soviet Russia. When agrarian socialism, Marxism, Symbolism, and Futurism each failed in turn interest in occultism surged, in Theosophy and Theosophically influenced teachers amongst others.

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The United States has seen a similar series of crises aroused by ‘the fading appeal of the American civil religion, also known as the American Dream’ p 403). War, fears of nuclear war, the revelation of Nazi death camps, and a recognition of social injustice induced a refusal to accept the restrictions of prevailing cultural norms and were some of the factors that contributed to the counter-culture of ‘hippies’ and ‘beats’. This became an unprecedented surge in occultism from the 1960s to the present. She concludes that the uncertainties current in Russia and the USA that are likely to encourage a continued interest in occultism

 

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In the second essay of this section Jeffrey J. Kripal’s On Reading Russian Mystical Literature Upside Down (pp 421 – 431), observes the globalisation of esoteric movements which unlike religions are usually ‘very bad at maintaining stable communities, p 421). He wonders if:

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a mystical event may not only be culturally or politically dissident: it may also be cognitively and epistemologically dissonant, (p 424).

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and raises a number of issues that face the scholar of esotericism. These include the ‘censoring and suppressing ideologies of the modern-day academy, p 425), and he goes on to write that in this volume only Natalia Zhukovskaia in her Shamanism in the Russian Intelligentsia (Post Soviet Space and Time) (pp 328-3470, has been willing to recount her first hand experience as researcher-scholar, and in doing so shows the reader:

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Russian anthropologists and intellectuals taking on the practices and roles of the shaman themselves, in essence, going native, (p 430 431) emphasis added.

Kripal’s use of the poetic and archaic phrase, ‘going native’ is a telling one. With it he refers to  notions of an abandonment of ‘civilised values’, a descent into an irrational and inferior way of life. These are familiar nineteenth, if not eighteenth century attitudes, all of which we must assume are not his own attitudes but those of the ‘suppressing ideologies of the modern-day academy‘ (p 431 ).

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These are almost the final words in The New Age of Russia, and bring this intricate and detailed overview of a century and more of academic study firmly into one of the major contemporary academic debates.

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Acknowledgements and thanks are due to the editors who brought this valuable contribution to esoteric and occult studies to publication. It offers evidence of the human refusal to obey or stay within defined boundaries, while simultaneously longing for security. In Russia during the 20th century these conflicting desires were expressed by politically repressive boundries, serially accompanied by a refusal to accept or to be bound by fixed, enprisoning ideologies. The two unbounded areas that continued to defy definition and which remained open for exploration during the whole century were those of the inner life, and outer space.

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Notes

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1.

This photograph  of Gleb Ivanovich Bokii (1897-1937) found in Google images, is clearly the source for the image described above.

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2.

As a post script to the above here are a couple of definitions of terms and initials used in the text which may be of use to fellow non-Russianists, (retreived from Wikipedia (5.6.2012).

Samizdat(Russian: самизда́т; IPA: ) was a key form of dissident activity across the Soviet bloc in which individuals reproduced censored publications by hand and passed the documents from reader to reader.

Tamizdat,Samizdat,OGPU ,NKVD

refers to literature published abroad (там, tam, “there”), often from smuggled manuscripts.

Initials

The OGPU (1922-1934) was responsible for the creation of the Gulag system. It also became the Soviet government’s arm for the persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Greek Catholics, the Latin Catholics, Islam and other religious organisations [...] The OGPU was also the principal secret police agency responsible for the detection, arrest, and liquidation of anarchists and other dissident left-wing factions in the early Soviet Union.

[and]

NKVD stands for The People’s Commissariatfor Internal Affairs, Narodnyy Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del), abbreviated NKVD (1934 – 1954).

from the entry for State Political Directorate Wikipedia retrieved 29.5. 2012

DEMONS AND ILLNESS: THEORY AND PRACTICE FROM ANTIQUITY TO THE EARLY MODERN PERIOD

 

Demons and Illness: Theory and Practice from Antiquity to the Early  Modern Period

Call for Papers

Centre for  Medical History: University of Exeter

22 – 24th   April 2013

In many near eastern traditions, demons appear as a cause of illness: most famously in the stories of possessed people cured by Christ. These traditions influenced perceptions of illness in Judaism, Christianity and Islam in later centuries but the ways in which these cultures viewed demons and illness have  received comparatively little attention. For example, who were these demons? How did they cause illness?  Why did they want to?  How did demons fit into other explanations for illness?   How could demonic illnesses be cured and how did this relate to other kinds of cure?  How far did medical or philosophical theory affect how people  responded to demonic illnesses in practice?

This conference will take a comparative approach, taking a wide geographical and  chronological sweep but confining itself to this relatively specific set of questions.  Because Jewish, Christian and Islamic ideas about demons and illness drew  on a similar heritage of ancient religious texts from New Testament times to the early modern period there is real scope to draw meaningful comparisons between the different periods and cultures.  What were the common assumptions  made by different societies? When and why did they  differ?  What was the relationship between theory and  practice?  We would welcome papers which address these issues for any period between antiquity and the early modern period, and which discuss Christian, Jewish or  Islamic traditions.

The conference is hosted by the Centre for Medical History at the University of Exeter, on April 22nd-24th,  2013. 

Please send abstracts by  15th September 2012 to the conference  organizers,

Catherine Rider and Siam Bhayro, Centre for Medical History, University of Exeter:

email  c.r.rider@exeter.ac.uk  or s.bhayro@exeter.ac.uk. 

Conference: ASTROLOGY IN TIME AND PLACE

UNIVERSITY OF WALES TRINITY SAINT DAVID

SCHOOL OF ARCHAEOLOGY, HISTORY AND ANTHROPOLOGY

THE SOPHIA CENTRE

Tenth AnnualConference

 

ASTROLOGY IN TIME AND PLACE

Saturday 23-Sunday 24 June 2012

Bath Royal Literary and ScientificInstitute, 16-19 Queen Square, Bath BA1 2HN

http://www.historyofastrology.org.uk/conferences/TimeAndPlace/index.html

 

PROVISIONAL PROGRAMME (SUBJECT TO CHANGE)

SATURDAY 24 JUNE

8.30     Registration and Refreshments

9.20     Welcome

9.30     Bernadette Brady (University of Wales Trinity Saint David)

Aristotle’s idea of ‘place’ within contemporary astrology.

10.00               Gustav-Adolf Schoener (Leibniz University ofHanover)

The Difference between Methods of Natural Sciences and Methods of Religious Studies on Modern Astrology.

10.30   Johann Hasler (Departamento deMúsica, Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia)

The sounding zodiacs in Westernmusical theory: an overview of proposals for musical interpretation ofastrological data from Ptolemy to the late 20th century.

 

11.00   TEA AND COFFEE

 

11.30   Charles Burnett

(Professor of the History of Islamic Influences at the Warburg Institute of the University of London)

Johannes Borotin as student and teacher of the science of the stars in fifteenth-century Prague.

12.30   LUNCH (OWN ARRANGEMENTS)

2.00     David Pankenier (Department of Modern Languages & Literature,Lehigh University)

On Chinese Astrology’s Impermeability to Western Influences.

3.00     Kristina Buhrman (University of Southern California)

Ptolemy and Sima Qian in 11thCentury Japan:Combining Disparate Astrologies in Practice.

 

3.30     TEA AND COFFEE

 

4.00     Ulla Koch (Carsten NiebuhrInstitute, University of Copenhagen)

The Meaning of Time: Calendar Divination.

4.30     Michael Grofe (Maya Exploration Centre)

Eternity in an Hour: the astronomical symbolism of the Era as the Maya agricultural year.

5.00     Christel Mattheeuws (Department of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen)

The Journey of Calendars, Wind and Life in the Indian Ocean.

 

SUNDAY 25 JUNE

9.30     Micah Ross and DorianGieseler Greenbaum (Kyōto Sangyō University; University of WalesTrinity Saint David)

Various renderings of pinaxin Greek and Demotic in the Medînet Mâdi ostraca.

10.00   Helen R. Jacobus (University College London)

The Zodiac Calendar in the Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q318) in relation to Babylonian Horoscopes.

10.30    David W. Kim (University of Edinburgh)

A Sethian Iconography: The Astrology of Tchacos Judas.

 

11.00   TEA AND COFFEE

 

11.30   Micah Ross (Kyōto Sangyō University)

A Study in the Early Iconography of Gemini.

12.00   Matthew Kosuta (College of Religious Studies, Mahidol University, Thailand)

The relationship between Theravada Buddhism and astrology with an emphasis on the modern period and Thailand.

 

12.30   LUNCH

 

2.00     Mario Friscia (University of  LaSapienza, Rome)

Astrology and its ritual applications:Propitiation of the planet Saturn within the Sun temple at Suriyanar Koyil (Tamil Nadu, India). A case-study from contemporary Tamil Shaivism.

2.30     Audrius Benorius (Director of the Center of Oriental Studies,Vilnius University, Lithuania)

Transformations of theSocial and Religious Status  of the Indian Astrologer at the Royal Court.

3.00     Michael York (Former Professor of Cultural Astronomy and Astrology, Bath Spa University)

Religion versus Science: Science versus Religion:Whither Astrology: Whithersoever?

4.00     CLOSE

 

Written by SOPHIA WELLBELOVED

May 22, 2012 at 2:07 pm

CONFERENCE: MATERIAL RELIGION IN MODERN BRITAIN AND ITS WORLDS

 

Depiction of a fetish in South Africa by the London Missionary Society, circa 1900. [Wikipedia]

8-9 June 2012

University of Glamorgan, UK

The Conference will be hosted by the University of Glamorgan, Cardiff Campus

Please contact Lucinda Matthews-Jones [l.matthew-jones@ljmu.ac.uk] or Tim Jones [twjones@glam.ac.uk] to book.

Material Religion in Modern Britain and its Worlds

This two-day symposium will explore material cultures of religious belief and faith in modern Britain. As Birgit Meyer, David Morgan, Crispin Paine and S. Brent Plate have recently pointed out, studying material objects provides us with an alternative evidence base in the study of modern religious belief (Birgit Meyer et al; 2011). Yet few attempts have yet been made to do so. While many scholars now concede that Britain’s religious landscape is more varied and rich than the narrative of secularisation allows, a tendency remains in the historiography of religion to privilege written sources over material manifestations of religion. This means that all sorts of belief practices have been overlooked. Analysing the material past, we propose, will provide scholars with new and exciting ways of understanding the apparently fraught relationship between modernity and religion.

As Jane Bennett points out, objects are culture constructions and lead active lives in our social and cultural landscape. Religious historians have too often been guilty of adopting an implicitly Protestant binary (set up in opposition to Catholicism) in which words are privileged over objects. Yet everyday cultures of Protestant belief in Britain relied on all kinds of material cultures which sustained religion in an age of uncertainty.

Despite Britain’s ‘official’ Protestant past, we are nonetheless keen to encourage papers which explore religious denominations or groups beyond the official canon and which made up Britain’s multi-faith landscape in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Papers are welcome which consider either formal or informal aspects of religious materiality. We would especially like to encourage papers that consider ‘Britain’s worlds’, including investigations of religious objects in the Empire or commonwealth or geographical locations inhabited by British people.

Steam Engine, University of Glamorgan


UK’s Science and Religion Forum: 2012 Conference: ‘The soul – can the concept of the soul still have meaning?’

Regent’s Park College, Oxford 

from late afternoon on Thursday 6 September to lunchtime on Saturday 8 September 2012.

The programme will follow the usual pattern and includes the Annual Gowland Lecture, a number of plenary lectures on the conference theme, and a short-paper session of 15-minute presentations by Forum members. The programme will also include a conference dinner, and there will be an early morning service of worship for those who are interested. The Forum’s AGM will take place during the Conference.

The conference fees (for full board) will be as follows:

SRF members £230

Non-members £260

Students £110

Bursaries will be offered for those who have been members of the Forum for at least six months and have no financial assistance from employers or sponsors (bursaries will probably be worth £60 which would reduce the fee to £170.

Further details: http://www.srforum.org/

Revd Dr Arthur Peacocke

The Peacocke Student Essay Prize

In memory of its founding President and former Chairman, the Revd Dr Arthur Peacocke, the Science and Religion Forum offers a prize for an essay directly relevant to the theme of its annual conference.

Congratulations to George H. Medley III, winner of the 2011 Peacocke Prize.

The competition is open to all students (undergraduate and postgraduate) and the closing date is July 31st 2012.

Details of 2012 prize to follow soon at UK’s Science and Religion Forum http://www.srforum.org/

Call for papers: REPRESENTATIONAL ART

The Lady of Shalott 1888: John William Waterhouse 1849-1917

REPRESENTATIONAL ART

OCTOBER 14-17, 2012 – VENTURA, CALIFORNIA

A CONFERENCE FOR ACADEMICS AND PROFESSIONALS

There has been a neglect of critical appreciation of representational art well out of proportion to its quality and significance; it is that neglect that this conference seeks to address. By its nature, 21st century representational art is not to be thought of as simply a return to 19th century realism, but as an open-ended exploration of possible new directions. The conference is planned as a focused but non-doctrinaire event, of serious academic standards. What is the role of representational art in the twenty-first century? What are its sources and directions? How might it shape the art world?

TRAC2012 keynote speakers are: Jed Perl and John Nava.

CALL FOR PAPERS

CLU invites artists, critics and academics to join us to celebrate and explore the direction of representational art in the 21st century. We are particularly interested in papers that explore the positive possibilities of representational art. We encourage inclusivity and diverse perspectives. We welcome papers that explore a variety of topics, including the following:

Meaning in 21st Century Representational art

Representation and imagination

The roots of the 21st century representational art movement

Approaches to beauty in contemporary representation

Idealism

Politics, artists and collectors

Understanding emotional responses to representational art

Breaking the boundaries of style

Gender and sexuality in 21st Century representational art

The place of representational art in a postmodern world

Tradition and revolution – the avant garde atelier

Representational art and new technology

Papers investigating the role of esotericism in representational art of the present and in its roots.

The influence of tarot and alchemical imagery in particular

Paper presentations are limited to forty-five minutes, with ten minutes for questions and answers.

First consideration will be given to abstracts received before May 21st, 2012.

FULL DETAILS:

http://trac2012.org

TRAC2012 includes keynote speakers and panel discussions about the major issues, foundation narratives, and philosophical underpinning of representational art in the 21st Century. Studio demonstrations of painting, drawing, sculpture and mosaic techniques will also be presented.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND:

Academic Studio Artists

Art Historians

Professional Studio Artists

Art Students

Critics

Gallery Professionals

Art Collectors

Museum Professionals

PAGANS IN DIALOGUE WITH THE WIDER WORLD: A Pagan Studies Symposium

 

 image from ryanwhitchurch.wordpress.com

Friday, February 15, 2013

at San José State University

(semi-concurrent with PantheaCon, February 15-18, 2013, DoubleTree Hotel, San Jose, CA)

Sponsored by San José State University, Humanities Dept., Comparative Religious Studies Program

Organizers: Lee Gilmore (SJSU) & Amy Hale (St. Petersburg College)

Contemporary Paganism, in all its varieties, stands at a unique cultural and religious intersection that can provide insights for a wide range of global, social, and political subjects, beyond its own inward facing concerns. For this symposium, we are calling for scholarly submissions that focus on Paganism’s contributions to and engagements with broader cultural and religious dialogues in an increasingly pluralist world. These could include, but are not limited to, explorations of Paganisms’ endeavors in community, economic, media, health, legal, social justice, and institutional development work, as well as activist, applied, interdisciplinary, and interfaith work.

More generally, all submissions that critically examine Paganism(s) in relationship to categories such as religion, culture, gender, identity, authenticity, power, and ritual–among other possible frameworks–are welcome. In addition, all papers presented at the symposium will be considered for publication in a special issue of The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies.

All proposals & queries should be sent to:

pagansymposium@gmail.com

Deadline: September 15, 2012

More info (including submission requirements & a pdf of this call):

http://www.sjsu.edu/people/lee.gilmore/paganstudies/

eSharp journal: call for papers on REALITY/ILLUSION

 

Victorian Spiritualists

eSharp, an established peer-reviewed journal publishing high-quality research by postgraduate students invites papers for the forthcoming themed issue. For Issue 19, Reality/Illusion, we invite articles which consider the differences between fact and fiction, truth and perception, or simulation and the real world from the realms of the social sciences, education, and the arts and humanities. We encourage submissions from postgraduate students at any stage of their research.

Ideas of Reality and Illusion are at the forefront of so much of our society and culture, even when we don’t really think about them. From increasingly immersive computer simulations to the rise of dramatized Reality TV Shows, the line between what is real and what only appears to be so has become progressively blurred in recent years. In light of this, it is essential for academia to seek to understand the use and abuse of something so fundamental as the perception and understanding of the world. Whether this analysis occurs within a single field or engages in an interdisciplinary study, there is plenty of opportunity to initiate wide-reaching lines of research.

Subjects may include, but are not limited to:

Representation and ideology

Mystic Visions in Hagiography

Perceptions of reality

Magic Realism

Measuring reality/measuring illusion

Illusory texts and/or contexts

The Reality of the “Occupy” worldview

Truthfulness and actuality

The Anthropology of Magic and Illusion

Visual aspects of reality and/or illusion

The use of Alternate Reality Games in viral marketing

Submissions to eSharp must be based on original research and should be between 4,000 and 6,000 words in length. These should be made in Word document or RTF format. Please ensure that you accompany your article with an abstract of 200 to 250 words and a list of three to five keywords to indicate the subject area of your article. A full list of guidelines and our style sheet is available here.

Submissions and enquiries should be sent to submissions@esharp.org.uk.

The deadline for submission of articles is Friday 29 June 2012

Glasgow University in 1650

eSharp

eSharp is an international online journal for postgraduate research in the arts, humanities, social sciences and education. Based at the University of Glasgow and run entirely by graduate students, it aims to provide a critical but supportive entry into the realm of academic publishing for emerging academics, including postgraduates and recent postdoctoral students.

One of our aims is to encourage the publication of high quality postgraduate research; therefore all submitted articles are anonymously double-blind peer reviewed as part of the acceptance and feedback process. This rigorous and constructive process is designed to enhance the worth of postgraduate and postdoctoral work. eSharp also engages in training postgraduate students in the various tasks that running an academic journal requires. Enhancing both employability and the graduate experience is a key aspect of its aims and objectives.

‘Gods are real': call for submissions to anthology of polytheistic experience

Gods are real.

And these gods are everywhere, in all aspects of

existence, all aspects of human life.”

- James Hillman

Call for Submissions

Minneapolis writer is compiling an anthology of modern, polytheistic experiences, tentatively titled Return of the Gods: The Varieties of Polytheistic Experience.

Seeking thoughtful, original, and previously unpublished non-fiction essays recounting first-hand encounters with Gods, ancestors, spirits, disembodied intelligences, and sacred presences in nature.

You may hail from a Hindu tradition, an indigenous tradition, a Pagan tradition, an African-based tradition, another tradition, or no tradition at all.

Electronic submissions only. Please submit only final, proofread copy, double-spaced, maximum 5,000 words. Please send your story as an MS Word attachment to williammcgillis [at] gmail [dot] com with the subject line: Return of the Gods. Please refrain from submitting if you are not open to edits.

Please ensure that your story file includes your (less than 75 word) bio along with contact details, including postal address and email address.

Compensation: All selected contributors will receive a complimentary copy of the book upon publication.

Deadline for submissions: June 21, 2012

COUNTERCULTURE RESEARCH GROUP

 

Image, place, source: unknown

Image from Reflections: Sixties Counterculture in Cambridge. Filmmaker: Kameron Stroud, Alexandros Papathanasiou

The Counterculture Research Group is an interdisciplinary series of seminars, lectures and associated events that focuses the multiple artistic, historical and social manifestations of the countercultural impetus.

 for more information please contact: 

Yvonne Salmon FRSA  yps1000@cam.ac.uk

LENT TERM 2012

5 pm –  17TH FEBRUARY, GATSBY ROOM, WOLFSON COLLEGE

Josie Gill (University of Cambridge)

Francis Crick, Race, and The Poetry of Richard Nixon

 

Francis Crick 1954

Amongst the hundreds of files which make up the Francis Crick archive is a file dedicated to Crick’s correspondence with Arthur Jensen, an American educational psychologist whose work focuses on proving a link between race and intelligence. The letters, which date from the early 1970s, provide an insight into Crick’s views on this controversial topic, and his role in galvanising support for a statement on academic freedom in the face of calls for the study of racial differences to be halted. However the file also contains two literary documents; a photocopy of The Poetry of Richard Nixon, a satirical collection of found poetry based on the Watergate tapes, and an essay on feminism by the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. What do these documents tell us about Crick’s thinking about race and why are they included in a file of his professional correspondence on the matter? In this paper I will suggest that the poems and essay reflect Crick’s ambivalent relationship to the political culture of the early 1970s which his participation in the debate over race exposes. Crick felt threatened by the questioning of traditional sources of authority such as science, yet embraced the more liberal movements of the time through an interest in beat poetry and drugs. Examining the authorship, production and content of the texts reveals a complex web of connections between Crick and the politically conservative, as well as countercultural, figures of the period, providing an alternative view of the relationship between literature and science in the second half of the twentieth century.

Josie Gill is a PhD student in the Faculty of English. Her thesis is on race, genetics and contemporary British fiction.

5 pm –  15TH MARCH, SEMINAR ROOM, WOLFSON COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.

James Purdon (University of Cambridge)

‘A Nation-Wide Intelligence Service': Mass-Observation, Hermeneutic Paranoia and the Invasion of Cambridge

 

Mass -observation (1943)

In the summer of 1940, a loose-knit coterie of Cambridge fellows submitted a file to Mass-Observation, the well-known social research organisation which since the spring of that year had been preparing reports for the Ministry of Information. The file consisted of a spectacularly paranoid collection of readings of graffiti, chalk-marks and ‘litter trails’ in the Cambridge countryside, pointing, it was suggested, to German invasion targets. Taking the Cambridge invasion file as a starting point, this paper explores English paranoia at the beginning of the Second World War, beginning with a survey of public reactions to Mass-Observation before and after its annexation by the wartime government, and moving on to consider literary responses both to the information-gathering methods of Mass-Observation itself, and to the wider wartime matters of surveillance and information restriction.

James Purdon is currently completing a doctoral dissertation on British writing from Joseph Conrad to Elizabeth Bowen and the rise of the information society.

For further information contact:

 Yvonne Salmon FRSA  yps1000@cam.ac.uk

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