Critical Perspectives on Transformational Culture.

The Body Electric: Extending Soul into Cyberspace

by Andrew Neuendorf

Werner Herzog’s 2011 documentary The Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a gorgeous and meditative exploration of a 25,000-year-old ceremonial cave in Southern France. In the clip below, the camera crew illuminates the walls and brings the intricate paintings to life, thereby simulating the cave’s likely function as a temple for ritualized mythopoetic imaginings:

This prehistorical cinema is not alien to us. We also project our longings whenever we descend into the darkness of the movie theater and root for superheroes or become entranced with hyper-real special effects. Myth is always ritual, Karen Armstrong reminds us in A Short History of Myth. Is there anything more ritualistic than buying a ticket, some popcorn, and sinking into a dark room for two hours of alternative reality, only to leave disoriented and squinting into the sun like an unchained man escaping Plato’s cave?

Surfing the internet has also become a prominent ritual of the electronic age, accompanied by predictable physiological responses, unending streams of surreal and disconnected imagery, and the need for communal bonding.

Cliff Bostock’s 2003 article “Cyberwork: the Archetypal Imagination in New Realms of Ensoulment” (which Jeremy wrote about here) argues that cyberspace is not a retreat from the hard work of spiritual questing, but is instead a medium that allows us to engage with archetypal imagery and to explore manifestations of psyche. The ritual of browsing the internet produces the same effects as the ceremonies of ancient shaman:
Read the rest of this entry »

Reading Wednesday: Spacious Mind

by Andrew Neuendorf

I recommend three more books in three minutes (approximately):

Wreck-it-Ralph: Dharma for the Digital Age

by Andrew Neuendorf

Re-posted from andrewneuendorf.com

I didn’t think my children (5 and 3 years old) would make it through Cloud Atlas, so we went to Wreck-it-Ralph instead. The film is yet another Hollywood incarnation of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, perhaps the most common plot structure employed by screenwriters, especially after Christopher Vogler introduced his famous memo, “A Practical Guide to the Hero with a Thousand Faces.”

Ralph, our unfulfilled hero, is called to leave his home and journey into strange new worlds (including one video game called “Hero’s Duty,” appropriately), only to return home in the end after a moment of self-realization. It’s a  framework that is recycled so often (The Lion King, The Matrix, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Wizard of Oz) because audiences respond to it. The Hero’s Journey resonates with universal human experience. We all leave home, grow, and change.  It’s not cliche, it’s an archetype. Cliche is the moss that grows on the archetypal tree.

But Wreck-it-Ralph adds something new to the Hero’s Journey.
Read the rest of this entry »

Reading Wednesday

by Andrew Neuendorf

In this video, I recommend three books (Solaris, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and the I-Ching) in just over three minutes. I also discuss their mutual theme: interrogation.

Toward a Humanities of Global Consciousness

by Andrew Neuendorf

During his interview series with Bill Moyers, Joseph Campbell predicts that humanity will eventually form a “society of the planet” once we realize that the divisions between people are arbitrary and illusory:

“When you see the earth from the moon, you don’t see any divisions there of nations or states. This might be the symbol, really, for the new mythology to come. That is the country that we are going to be celebrating. And those are the people that we are one with.”

Campbell’s vision seems incompatible with the content of international news: terrorism, xenophobia, fundamentalism, repressive regimes, corporate greed, and environmental degradation. Such problems suggest that Campbell’s dream of a united world is not remotely imminent. However, from another perspective, the horrors of the daily headlines might be leading indicators of the early stages of an emerging global consciousness, a period of conflict and stress that will stimulate cultural evolution.

If, to select one horrific example, the ice caps melt and coastal waters displace millions of people, all of humanity would be forced into the same boat. With this would come the creation of new narratives.

But why wait? Scholars and educators should begin working toward a Humanities of Global or Planetary Consciousness.

Before creating a meaningful course description or scheduling one iota of content, we should stop and contemplate a strange question: Read the rest of this entry »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,242 other followers