This is very like starting a new blog. I am coming back to this changed and changing, with a much clearer sense of my personal, communal, and political commitments. Looking back over these archives, I notice my too-great intellectual proximity to discourse communities marked by their active self-isolation from the vibrant global cultural diversity that characterizes this and almost every moment in recent centuries. I have regularly mistaken these communities’ love of exoticism for genuine cultural interest and modulated myself to be in dialogue with them. Push comes to shove, though, what most of these communities seem to value most is a capacity to interact with other cultures as a free consumer, a relationship that doesn’t make them more than superficially responsible for the shape their interactions with other peoples and their cultures take.
Five years sure fly, right? I took a break from this blog (& a lot of other online venues) to pursue an intensely personal and peculiar intellectual and spiritual project. After a few years, I even thought about taking The Light House offline, gently retiring it like I have so many other things. The sense that I wasn’t quite done with this place, or that there was enough here that might still be useful for someone, sometime, kept me from following through on those impulses. I am glad for that—as I am slowly putting the finishing touches on that more personal project, I am starting to feel like it might be time to come back here.
I don’t know quite what I mean by that yet. My last post five years ago wasn’t an abrupt end; it just completed the quiet slow down that had preceded it by years. What I was doing five and ten years ago sat much closer to my youthful seeking than it does to my more mature sensibilities. I am a quite different person. I am in the middle of a gender transition, that process of changing body and habit to better affirm my inner sense of myself and integrate it (me!) better into my life. In that light, even some of more mature decisions of the last five years have the whiff of evasion. Now, ask me about what preceded that, including many posts here? Whew, some of it reeks of outright denial.
And yet while I don’t have much interest revisiting what came before, there is little here I would outright eschew. I want to build atop my old settlement, let the rest sink like ruins into the landscape that shapes my present efforts. I still recognize myself in the work I did here and I like the continuity of presence picking up this blog affirms. I want to sit in my past a little better even as I build (hopefully) toward my future.
Hello again. My name is Iris. Welcome to The Light House. The water is high, the storm is heavy and hides us from each other, but maybe you’ll see the flashing of this light when you need it, know that you aren’t alone, and gather some hint as to where you might need to steer toward or away from.
Or, you know, maybe just chuckle to yourself. It’s all good.
I haven’t stopped chewing over the topic of my last post; it opens onto quite a few topics that I would like to write about here. Rather than try to cram all of those topics into a single post, though, I have decided to break them out into a loose series of posts that will all be identified with the [CPE] tag you see above. As you might guess, all of these posts will be united around issues of cosmos, paradigm, and education. Education may seem like the odd-man-out in this equation, but it occupies an essential place in the discussion. This series began in what I thought would be a single post on the failures of contemporary education, but in proceeding to trace that I found myself involved in a much larger series of topics.
The failures of contemporary education have deep roots that extend back into the roots of European modernity itself. It is surely easy to be cynical about the state of contemporary education (and I am sometimes), but I don’t want to get stuck in cynicism. Rather, I want to examine the failures of education by vieiwing them as a sort of higher order ‘interesting errors.’ Like interesting errors, they are worthy of study so that we can see more clearly the way in which those failures reveal useful truths as an ill-fitting pair of clothes reveals something of how we move. One of the more important failures is the failure to integrate cosmos and paradigm.
By cosmos I mean a totality organized according to unified principles and the sense of enclosure it gives to human society. The sense of a cosmos gives members of society a set of ideals through which they are able to regulate themselves and their society. A paradigm, by contrast, is partial. It refers to a specific set of phenomena and proceeds to provide an explanation of the phenomena’s behavior. On a purely conceptual level, these two patterns do not appear to be in conflict. In fact, there seems to be a complementarity to the way in which the phenomena described by a paradigm can be integrated into a bigger picture, cosmological model. However, in historical terms, these two modes of approaching the world are deeply at odds with each other and efforts to resolve those tensions are part of what structures the failure of education.
The subsequent [CPE] posts will all be centered at getting at this historical conundrum and thinking (i.e., speculating) about how we might get beyond it.
I have been thinking carefully about what I want to do next with this little corner of the internet and have a working plan. It looks like this:
(1) Roll out two new blogs, one devoted to history of religion type work and the other devoted to thinking through the rudiments of a world historical theology. (Update: Pantheologia is up and running now; so too is Spirited Culture.)
(2) Retain this blog site for sort of ‘letters to the editor’ sorts of posts.
While divided into three blogs, my aim is fundamentally the same with each of them, to follow the traces of spirit in the world in such a way that both are illuminated.
I don’t foresee a dramatic upswing in my internet presence. My goals are quite demanding enough without setting sweeping time constraints on them. If I post twice a year, so be it, as long as I am happy with whatever two things I’m posting. I’ll interlink all blogs once the other two are ready to go.
I have decided to return to blogging. I don’t have the same goals or desires that I had when I started this blog, though, so I’m doing this slowly.
I have taken down everything that I posted. Piece by piece, I’m going to review old entries and decide if they have a place on the blog now. Those that do have a place, will be returned to public view. Where I feel so moved, I will edit those pieces before returning them to public view.
Going forward, this blog will probably grow even more slowly than previously. I am not committed to a strong online presence, so please don’t be surprised when I don’t take an active role in discussions that might crop up in connection to material I post. I have no desire to adjust my way of thinking to the rapid cycle of consumption and response that characterizes the internet.
I consistently find myself circling terminological issues when I start talking about spirituality and religion. In part, the confusion rests with the topic itself, with the difficulty in parsing out the different kinds of spirituality, the different kinds of spiritual engagement, and the different kinds of spiritual beings.
Some of that has to do with a deliberate ambiguity on my part, a desire to avoid cosmological debates which often drift toward the arcane, sort of modern day versions of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
Regardless, I’m beginning to feel the limits of this approach more and more. I need to find more terms that, without losing the flexibility and open-ness which I strive toward, provide me with a clearer frame of reference to talk about these things.
I’m starting this blog for a very simple reason–to get all these ideas that are rushing through my head out of my personal notebooks and into the world. True, this is a small step toward that ‘into the world’ but it is a step nonetheless.
Most of what you will find here will be a mixture of personal musings and, for lack of a better word, political considerations. I’m not sure what the mix will look like at this point, but I aim to keep things as compact and easily digestible as possible.
I don’t want this to be a place where I post lengthy tracts and treatises, but something more diagrammatic, a map with arrows pointing out all the trajectories that seem available at present. I don’t want this to be about my words, my ideas, but about potential actions and practices.