[NB] Sociability

I have a feeling this is going to continue to be a slow period for this blog, in part because it seems to be an intense period for the rest of my life. Still, there are some fibers that I want to work a little, see if I can get them to catch and start to form some nice woolly yarn. Perhaps gathering a few more thoughts related to the book challenge?

The centrality of communication and community can be rotated, like a gem, to reveal other facets to the pansophist book game. I have talked a few times about how its practical spiritual work is loosely structured and leaves a lot of room for personal exploration and interest.

I could imagine it being called shallow thereby, but that’s why the timing in the thought experiment is important. The book lists do not point the reader at a final practice but toward a habit of interacting with the spiritual world in a manner through which they could acquire deeper relationships.

But the book experiment also helps me to think about how insidious that deep/shallow dualism is (another tool in the respectability trap). The pansophist list suggests a spiritual route that doesn’t lead to ever deeper and more intensive practice. It leaves open the door that a person will find their spiritual level interacting with the spiritual world with a certain easy and affable manner.

That isn’t a bad thing. Most healthy religious communities are constituted precisely by a community of people who care about the spiritual world but are not interested in intensive spirit work or theological speculation. They are aware and sensitive to spiritual reality and appreciate that there are complexities to it that lie beyond their immediate concerns.

Those people are vital because their care and attention to the spiritual matters as part of their daily lives becomes one of the foundations for spirits to acquire stability in the world and a capacity to support those with whom they are in caring relationships. Again, the goos contra the goes/magi.

There is something here, too, about the American-ness of the pansophist books. In part, yes, because the American world is the one in which I am embedded, in which any form of neighborliness has to emerge. In part, too, because the American world itself seems to have a very distinct spiritual genius that is well-suited to a certain sort of neighborliness.

Before we drift off too far into romantic American exceptionalism, I suspect the neighborliness is response to the brutality of the American scene (here, yes, please, here ‘American’ to encompass all of the Americas), its deep legacy of violent colonialism and imperialism. Neighborliness as one of the unrelenting countermeasure issued forth from the spiritual world in answer to that.

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3 thoughts on “[NB] Sociability

  1. I’ve been busy with other projects, and I’ve not had time to keep up with your blog or some of the ideas you’ve been working on. I feel bad about that— in part because comments indicate a level of online neighborliness which I think is important. If we’re a community, it’s in part because we commune with one another.

    I hear what you’re saying about the problem of deep/shallow duality, and respectability. Is my magical practice more respectable because it draws on elements from before lodge magic? Is it less respectable because it draws on lodge traditions? Is it better or worse because it’s less New Age-y than others? What about results? Spiritual experiences? Contacts with spirits? Neighborliness?

    It’s on my mind. This past weekend I was at a gathering/retreat/celebration, and I saw all kind of magic and all kinds of magicians and all kinds of spirituality on display. And the forms I wanted little to do with were the ones that made no room for different traditions, that looked down long noses at the random ecstasy and wanted to do all things The Right Way. Tedious, yet hard to escape.

    1. Io

      I have fallen down the respectability rabbit-hole pretty hard in the past, in ways that really tripped me up. I don’t think I’ve entirely managed to disentangle myself from those habits, but I’m pushing myself on them.

      1. Aren’t we all? I met up with a magician friend of mine, yesterday, and one of the things that we agreed on is that any good system of magic has to encourage you to non-dualistic modalities of thought — not just toward wholeness, but toward the mindset that there are three, or four, or six, or seven, or twelve, different modes of thinking…. unfortunately, the dualism is always there, ready to leap out of the bushes at the most inconvenient times, and grab us by the brainstem. 🙂

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