File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0106, message 100

Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2001 17:13:11 +0100
Subject: Re: the Goths


The reason for my Baudrillard response is because I think that the 1970s
work around Symbolic Exchange and political economy remains under valued and
extremly important. But to understand as Kellner does (and it hadn't
registered that you were referring to this) is to enable the wide scope of
the work to be unncessarily narrowed. My own problem with the work is
actually in Baudrillard's potential to be interpreted as anti-modern,
however this is a different story.

It is not that religion is a 'hot button' in personal terms but rather that
the issue of religion and the spirit contains a range of what I take to be
invidious and dangerous grand-narratives that I deeply dislike. It wasn't
until I read 'Peregrinations' that I understood why Lyotard did not
incorporate the dominant religious tendencies within his grand narratives
argument. I maintain incidentally that all your arguments support my
contention that the 'religious grand narrative/meta narrative' is ended and
the proliferation of religious and spiritual narratives supports this.

> With regard to the frogs, are you aware that Sir Thomas Browne worked
> out a metaphor like this, namely that man is an amphibian. The
> possibility of some radical transformation, whether to frog or
> butterfly, has always governed the religious mentality. (The greek word
> 'psyche' also means butterfly.)

I wasn't - delightful notion though - reminds me of Ovid and the 'becoming
mineral'... actually hadn't occured to me but you could use that as a good
starting point for an ecological argument...

> I am aware that the subject of religion appears to be a hot button for
> you and I am willing to let this thread die (perhaps to be reincarnated
> in another form elsewhere).  However, I just want to allude to several
> trends that indicate for me something like religion is still at work.

I would not suggest that religion will not exist and will continue to do so,
i think however that it is as Nancy stated a 'weak knowledge' which needs to
be understood and analysed in its contemporary forms as a continuation of
the indo-european and indo-iranian myths and legends... The key word is
'myth' - the underlying problem remains: the reactionary results of nearly
all religious practice - when taken outside of the individual human realm
and placed in the social field itself. This has become a greater problem
since mass industrialisation and threatens to become more so.

> 1. In your last post you refer to technology.  Certainly, you are also
> aware of interactive forms such as virtual technology. I think this has
> the potential to develop greater different states of awareness once the
> technology has been developed.

Expand on this - for example Vinge and co's argument of technology as a
singularity has some possible historical truth - I am thinking of the
transformations of earlier technology breakthroughs - language, the
invention of the state, neolithic farming and so on - but the part of my
intellectuial makeup that descends from Freud and psychoanalysis is not
convinced. (I tend towards Lyotard and Deleuze around technology - I have
extremely fond memories of Deleuze's "technology is allways social before it
is technological..." as a technologist I agree 100% with this...)

> 2. When I suggested that drug laws might be a form of religious
> persecution, your response was simply one of question marks. Personally,
> I find it somewhat incredulous that you don't want to acknowledge the
> political implication of current drug laws. (it reminds me of the
> sixties and the traditional response of the old left - what do drugs
> have to do with class war?)

I concede that the drugs issue is political did not intend to suggest that
it wasn't...

Questions - why is the huge number of  racial minority casualties in the USA
drug war not elements in class war? What have drugs got to do with religious

> Again, I will simply remind you that there is a good amount of
> historical evidence that suggests a relationship between drug use and
> religion and, just as with VT, drugs have the potential to radically
> transform consciousness, which is for me the main reason they have been
> banned. "How do you keep them at the office after they seen the white
> light and raised their kundalini?"

The histories and story of drug use is remarkably similar to the history of
sexuality  and it is not clear this actually relates to religion.

> The point I am trying to make is that something is going on here,
> whether you call it religion, the evolution of consciousness or Hegelian
> dialectics of history. The old hippie ideal, for all its faults, had
> some things going for it. Simplify our lives, tranform social
> relationships into play and use our new found freedom to explore the
> hidden dimensions of consciousness and enter into states of love, joy,
> peace and ecstasy. That is the form of religion I have been arguing for
> and I think it still has vast political implications.  In fact, I would
> go so far as to say, significant political change will not take place
> until people first have a radical shift in their awareness.

We have to agree to differ - this seems an impossible political direction. I
do not believe that the current crop of militants drifting across the
continents towards genoa are particularly engaged in religious practice -
unless a relationship to anti-capitalism and intellectual roots in Marx and
Autonomous political action constitute a religious practice!

Finite Eric Finite.


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