Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Doesn’t it have a certain religious feel to it?

WORKSHOP ON INTEGRAL EDUCATION ... - Sri Aurobindo Society 20 MAY TO 27 MAY 2012. I have gone through the Information Sheet for the Workshop on ...

Is technology and commodification the only way to condition human subjectivity? Did the Spanish Inquisition not condition the subjectivity of those living under it? If you made more modest and nuanced claims like maybe that the present-day scale of global techno-capitalism is unprecedented and may be affecting human subjectivity in significant ways that are not yet completely understood, then it wouldn’t warrant any comment. E.g. instead of “Human subjectivity belongs to the market”, maybe “market forces might be having an impact on human subjectivity”.
But to make such sweeping claims without citing evidence or detailing arguments, just re-asserting them repeatedly in an effort to “awaken the sleepers”, well doesn’t it have a certain religious feel to it? But these ideas seem close to your heart so I’m sorry if I’ve poked you too hard over them. Meanwhile your book has arrived and at a glance it seems to be mostly about yoga, not global techno-capitalism, and thus coincides with my own interests.

OK, if I seem to make totalistic claims, it is because such totalistic trajectories are hegemonic in our times. To what extent they have determined subjectivity today may be questioned, and my interest does not lie in fighting on one side or other of that debate. What I am concerend about is the danger and the need to be aware of our historicity, which indeed, is unprecedented and thus being recognized, even by mainstream anthropologists as an entry into a new era, the anthropocene age. But to call it by that name hides other serious implications of such an age.
For a yoga which is not just about finding the jivatman, whether culturally bounded or not, and is more properly related to an evolutionary change, interiority becomes the grasp of Being-in-Becoming and our position in its evolutionary history. This is what Bergson and Deleuze refer to as Duration and this is what is rendered increasingly inaccessible by the flattening and instrumentalizing effects of our age, where forces of global competition utilize global technologies to accelerate the production of perpetual novelty and the manufacture of corresponding packaged desires for consumption through (near-)instant gratification. These processes of production press for the human subject to turn increasingly into instrument bereft of interiority and the processes of consumption in turn produce a surrogate interiority and populate it with its manufactured desires. Again, how completely these things are accomplished is not what I am debating, but pointing to the need to be aware of these forces and developing alternate technologies of consciousness against their grain to aim for another kind of human subjectivity and global fulfillment, one that pertains to a divine life.

Sri Aurobindo describes a certain static component to the human essence (Jivatman), and another evolutionary component that develops over time/births (Psychic being), that are both accessible via yoga; and then there’s the mental/vital complex (i.e. ordinary subjectivity) that varies a lot across culture and history, although still with certain recognizable patterns (ego, desire) despite the varying outer forms.
There’s also a global history of mystics writing about their essential experiences across time and culture in which one can observe certain common or repeating features. This might count as some evidence that human essential subjectivity is not entirely a creation of a specific culture at a specific historical time, and that this essence is accessible, although not easily.

Most "fundamentalisms" involve special forms of identity politics, meaning, and labeling, characterized by a quest for certainty, exclusiveness, and unambiguous boundaries, where the "Other" is the enemy demonized. It also reflects a mind-set uncompromising and antirelativist, as one response to the openness and uncertainties of a cosmopolitan world, and [tries] to chart a morally black and white path out of the gray zones of intimidating cultural and religious complexity. — Judith Nagata, Beyond Theology: Towards an Anthropology of ‘Fundamentalism’ (2001), page 481. Juergensmeyer An-Na'im Lifton

No comments:

Post a Comment