Shaktichakra, the wheel of energies

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Archive for December 2022

The well-tempered egg

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I first ran into Darren Allen when I read ’33 Myths of the System’, which may have been his first book (he now has seven). At any rate if he’d written one earlier, I never got to it because his 33 myths were very compelling indeed. Who is Allen? He is a writer of radical philosophy and his works, in his own words, have been “widely read, deeply loved and viscerally detested, and it has been generously endorsed by some of our culture’s greatest trouble-makers”.

Since I am well on the way to being a culture trouble-maker of significance, it may be that Allen will also include me as one of his (more curmudgeonly) endorsers. He does provide a qualification, somewhere on his website, Expressive Egg, which goes like this: “I don’t reject everything within the history of civilisation, which would be silly, but I do believe that, ten thousand years ago, man (and I do mean man) made a catastrophic wrong turn into self.”

What I found immediately familiar about many of the myths in Allen’s 33 myths is the truth – usually ugly and usually manipulative – that lies just under the surface of each, easily within reach for anyone, except that anyone is just too lazy, and too used to being trained to be lazy, to scratch that surface.

In ’33 Myths’ – which I suggest the reader should begin with in his exploration of Allen’s works – he “confronts the fabrications of both capitalism and socialism, both left and right, both theism and atheism”. But it is not only about revealing the falsity of opposites. The myths are also an aide to “perceive and understand the unhappy supermind that directs, penetrates and even lives our lives”.

A subsequent work, entitled ‘Ad Radicem’ (which means, to the root), has essays on Marx, feminism, the ‘pandemic’, mental illness and superstition. Where did all this come from? I suppose from wherever the fates catapulted him to: Allen has worked “in Russian cement factories, Spanish anarchist squats, Japanese high schools, Qatari military schools, Sudanese oil companies and Saudi shit-holes”. Well, no shortage of direct material then with which to comment on the absurdities of the world.

It was Allen’s ‘Myth of Education’ that struck a chord. I have disliked intensely the cruel charade that is called school, the harsh indoctrination gaol that is called university. Here’s a passage:

“The purpose of education is to squash initiative, self-sufficiency and self-trust. The superficial means by which this is effected is through punishing any serious attempt to cross disciplines or to reject the syllabus which, by virtue of the fact that all socio-economic activity depends on the values and credentials it produces, makes all learning outside of its confines worse than useless; craft, self-knowledge, social responsibility and general non-credentialised competence, all become non-pedagogic in an intensely schooled system, and the entire world beyond the curriculum becomes non-educational, not to mention unreal.”

And likewise, culture, with which I have been absorbed and have had to do with for a good many years, formally and informally. Its shibboleths have been welded together out of wrought iron, so rigid and indestructible they appear. But for those who stand freely outside the lurid Disneyworld that is the putrescent landscape of ‘culture’, the disease is all too visible. Herewith Allen:

“Those who would create the art we need are isolated from the harmony of lived nature and genuine culture, and can no longer detect its presence. Cultural ugliness and aesthetic squalor colonise the earth and come to seem normal, until the building of a great work of art comes to be as difficult, and as unlikely, as the building of a cathedral, while those who look back with longing at the cathedrals we once built appear hopelessly out-of-date.”

His very latest effort at describing, in a radical sort of way, a world out of joint, is titled ‘Fired’. Allen describes the book as “a heroic journey of unself-discovery, a forgiving study of contemporary minds at the end of their tether” and, what I find most charming, “in the tradition of English losers gloriously, pointlessly and pathetically fighting a battle they cannot win”. Ah yes, but the most merit lies in fighting, not in the winning, for it is the winners who are most apt to be captured by those who run this very disjointed world.


Written by makanaka

December 28, 2022 at 21:48

Posted in culture

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The greatness of water

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“Venerated from a time before antiquity as life-giver, water has been held in the highest esteem in all cultures and eras. Water-related mythologies show as much the divine character associated with it, as its qualities that lie beyond the material. In our time, the intangible cultural heritage (ICH) and traditional knowledge that surround water still give us an entryway to a fuller understanding of the great life-giver.”

This is the introduction to my paper which has been published as a chapter in the book titled ‘Water: Interconnectivity between the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Science’, which is a joint publication by two centres, the International Information and Networking Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (ICHCAP) and the International Centre for Water Security and Sustainable Management (i-WSSM), both being UNESCO centres in the Asia-Pacific region and based in South Korea. The book is also part of the ‘Living Heritage Series’ published by ICHCAP.

My association with the ICHCAP centre goes back several years. As per the centre’s description of the book, it is meant to “promote the convergence of science and intangible cultural heritage (ICH) fields; to spread the value of the intangible cultural heritage of water. Nine stories on water management and water and culture were gathered in one place. It contains stories about water-related ICH elements, such as water management as the transmission of traditional knowledge and agriculture as water-related culture. Through this book, readers will be able to explore the value of water, which is an essential factor for humankind, from a cultural perspective.”

More from ‘With Okeanos and Ganga, the greatness of water’:

“But Ganga herself—for the great majority of the rivers in the Indian subcontinent are indeed feminine, a clear sign of the universal acknowledgment to be found among the very oldest cultures of the world that life-giving and life-sustaining waters are embodiments of the feminine force—has a mythic history.”

“Dispatched to the realms of man because of her transgressions in the heavenly realm, her descent to Earth would have been ruinous, an apocalypse, had she not been caught in the matted locks of the great god Shiva, the original yogi, who in so doing prevented all on Earth from being washed away by the force and volume of her waters. When set free, Ganga followed the course she currently occupies; in the mythic account it is said thereafter she descended further into the realm below that occupied by humans, and in this way Ganga watered all three worlds.”

“These accounts are very rich in allegorical symbolism, and it is the codes that have been included in the mythic retellings of the tale that signal the metaphysical consideration of the water element. These are the codes that—like so many concerning the stories of creation that abound in old cultures and within the unimaginably ancient seam of oral accounts told and retold by indigenous peoples—point to the true characteristics of what we have become used to calling the “elements,” such as water.”

“Similarly, in the ancient Greek cosmogony the Okeanos River was a great freshwater stream that encircled the flat disk of the Earth. It was considered in this cosmogony to be the source of all of the Earth’s fresh water, from the rivers and springs that drew their waters from it through subterranean aquifers, to the clouds that dipped below the horizon to collect their moisture from its stream. Okeanos also marked the outer boundary of the flat earth that it surrounded with a nine-fold stream. The Sun, Moon, and stars all rose from and set into its waters. At night the Sun god would sail around its northern reach in a golden boat to reach his rising place in the east from his setting point in the west. In a cosmological sense, the river symbolized the eternal flow of time.”

The paper can be read or downloaded from my section on Academia or on ResearchGate. The full publication can be found here.

Written by makanaka

December 17, 2022 at 20:40