Sensible Ecstasy

Author: Amy Hollywood
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226349462
Size: 12.47 MB
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Sensible Ecstasy investigates the attraction to excessive forms of mysticism among twentieth-century French intellectuals and demonstrates the work that the figure of the mystic does for these thinkers. With special attention to Georges Bataille, Simone de Beauvoir, Jacques Lacan, and Luce Irigaray, Amy Hollywood asks why resolutely secular, even anti-Christian intellectuals are drawn to affective, bodily, and widely denigrated forms of mysticism. What is particular to these thinkers, Hollywood reveals, is their attention to forms of mysticism associated with women. They regard mystics such as Angela of Foligno, Hadewijch, and Teresa of Avila not as emotionally excessive or escapist, but as unique in their ability to think outside of the restrictive oppositions that continue to afflict our understanding of subjectivity, the body, and sexual difference. Mystics such as these, like their twentieth-century descendants, bridge the gaps between action and contemplation, emotion and reason, and body and soul, offering new ways of thinking about language and the limits of representation.

Encountering Religion

Author: Tyler Roberts
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 9780231535496
Size: 19.16 MB
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Tyler Roberts encourages scholars to abandon the conceptual opposition between "secular" and "religious" to better understand the revival of political and public religion across the world. Roberts approaches the phenomenon as a process of "encounter" and "response," illuminating the agency, creativity, and critical awareness of religious actors. To respond to religion is to ask what religious behaviors and representations mean to us in our worlds, confronting the questions of possibility and becoming that arise from testing our beliefs and practices. He incorporates the work of Hent de Vries, Eric Santner, and Stanley Cavell, who exemplify encounter and response by exposing secular thinking to religious thought and practice.

The Awakened Ones

Author: Gananath Obeyesekere
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 9780231527309
Size: 16.58 MB
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While a rational consciousness grasps many truths, Gananath Obeyesekere believes an even richer knowledge is possible through a bold confrontation with the stuff of visions and dreams. Spanning both Buddhist and European forms of visionary experience, he fearlessly pursues the symbolic, nonrational depths of such phenomena, reawakening the intuitive, creative impulses that power greater understanding. Throughout his career, Obeyesekere has combined psychoanalysis and anthropology to illuminate the relationship between personal symbolism and religious experience. In this book, he begins with Buddha's visionary trances wherein, over the course of four hours, he witnesses hundreds of thousands of his past births and eons of world evolution, renewal, and disappearance. He then connects this fracturing of empirical and visionary time to the realm of space, considering the experience of a female Christian penitent, who stares devotedly at a tiny crucifix only to see the space around it expand to mirror Christ's suffering. Obeyesekere follows the unconscious motivations that underly rapture, the fantastical consumption of Christ's body and blood, and body mutilation and levitation, bridging medieval Catholicism and the movements of early modern thought, reflected in William Blake's artistic visions and poetic dreams. He develops the term "dream-ego" through a discussion of visionary journeys, Jung's and Freud's scientific dreaming, and the cosmic and erotic dream-visions of New Age virtuosos, and he defines the parameters of a visionary mode of knowledge that provides a more elastic understanding of truth. A career-culminating work, this volume not only translates the epistemology of Hindu and Buddhist thinkers to western audiences but also revitalizes western philosophical and scientific inquiry.

On Extended Wings

Author: Helen Hennessy Vendler
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 0674634365
Size: 10.10 MB
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Though Wallace Stevensâe(tm) shorter poems are perhaps his best known, his longer poems, Helen Hennessy Vendler suggests in this book, deserve equal fame and equal consideration. Stevensâe(tm) central themeâe"the worth of the imaginationâe"remained with him all his life, and Mrs. Vendler therefore proposes that his development as a poet can best be seen, not in descriptionâe"which must be repetitiveâe"of the abstract bases of his work, but rather in a view of his changing styles. The author presents here a chronological account of fourteen longer poems that span a thirty-year period, showing, through Stevensâe(tm) experiments in genre, diction, syntax, voice, imagery, and meter, the inventive variety of Stevensâe(tm) work in long forms, and providing at the same time a coherent reading of these difficult poems. She concludes, âeoeStevens was engaged in constant experimentation all his life in an attempt to find the appropriate vehicle for his expansive consciousness; he found it in his later long poems, which surpass in value the rest of his work.âe

The Power Of Tantra

Author: Hugh B. Urban
Publisher: I.B.Tauris
ISBN: 9780857731586
Size: 18.92 MB
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In the West, the varied body of texts and traditions known as Tantra for more than two centuries has had the capacity to scandalise and shock. For European colonisers, Orientalist scholars and Christian missionaries of the Victorian era, Tantra was generally seen as the most degenerate and depraved example of the worst tendencies of the so-called 'Indian mind': a pathological mixture of sensuality and religion that prompted the decline of modern Hinduism. Yet for most contemporary New Age and popular writers, Tantra is celebrated as a much-needed affirmation of physical pleasure and sex: indeed as a 'cult of ecstasy' to counter the perceived hypocritical prudery of many Westerners. In recent years, Tantra has become the focus of a still larger cultural and political debate. In the eyes of many Hindus, much of the western literature on Tantra represents a form of neo-colonialism, which continues to portray India as an exotic, erotic, hyper-sexualised Orient. Which, then, is the 'real' Tantra? Focusing on one of the oldest and most important Tantric traditions, based in Assam, northeast India, Hugh B. Urban shows that Tantra is less about optimal sexual pleasure than about harnessing the divine power of the goddess that flows alike through the cosmos, the human body and political society. In a fresh and vital contribution to the field, the author suggests that the 'real' meaning of Tantra lies in helping us rethink not just the history of Indian religions, but also our own modern obsessions with power, sex and the invidious legacies of cultural imperialism. 'The Power of Tantra is a major scholarly treatment of a much misconstrued esoteric tradition and a well-written and illustrated guide to a dimension of Hinduism that deserves the careful research Hugh B. Urban has given it. An impressive achievement.' - Paul B Courtright, Professor of Religion and Asian Studies, Emory University

Dissenting Bodies

Author: Martha L. Finch
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 9780231511384
Size: 11.12 MB
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For the Puritan separatists of seventeenth-century New England, "godliness," as manifested by the body, was the sign of election, and the body, with its material demands and metaphorical significance, became the axis upon which all colonial activity and religious meaning turned. Drawing on literature, documents, and critical studies of embodiment as practiced in the New England colonies, Martha L. Finch launches a fascinating investigation into the scientific, theological, and cultural conceptions of corporeality at a pivotal moment in Anglo-Protestant history. Not only were settlers forced to interact bodily with native populations and other "new world" communities, they also fought starvation and illness; were whipped, branded, hanged, and murdered; sang, prayed, and preached; engaged in sexual relations; and were baptized according to their faith. All these activities shaped the colonists' understanding of their existence and the godly principles of their young society. Finch focuses specifically on Plymouth Colony and those who endeavored to make visible what they believed to be God's divine will. Quakers, Indians, and others challenged these beliefs, and the constant struggle to survive, build cohesive communities, and regulate behavior forced further adjustments. Merging theological, medical, and other positions on corporeality with testimonies on colonial life, Finch brilliantly complicates our encounter with early Puritan New England.

Bodily Citations

Author: Ellen Armour
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 9780231508643
Size: 13.67 MB
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In such works as Gender Trouble and Bodies That Matter Judith Butler broke new ground in understanding the construction and performance of identities. While Butler's writings have been crucial and often controversial in the development of feminist and queer theory, Bodily Citations is the first anthology centered on applying her theories to religion. In this collection scholars in anthropology, biblical studies, theology, ethics, and ritual studies use Butler's work to investigate a variety of topics in biblical, Islamic, Buddhist, and Christian traditions. The authors shed new light on Butler's ideas and highlight their ethical and political import. They also broaden the scope of religious studies as they bring it into conversation with feminist and queer theory. Subjects discussed include the woman's mosque movement in Cairo, the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the possibility of queer ethics, religious ritual, and biblical constructions of sexuality. Contributors include: Karen Trimble Alliaume, Lewis University; Teresa Hornsby, Drury University; Amy Hollywood, Harvard Divinity School; Christina Hutchins, Pacific School of Religion; Saba Mahmood, University of California, Berkeley; Susanne Mrozik, Mount Holyoke College; Claudia Schippert, University of Central Florida; Rebecca Schneider, Brown University; Ken Stone, Chicago Theological Seminary