Two Takes On ‘New Age’

New age dolphin rainbow


In 1928 a brilliant philosopher/logician from Vienna, Rudolf Carnap, published Der logische Aufbau der Welt, The Logical Structure of the World. Ten years before, Ludwig Wittgenstein had conceived his highly cryptic Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, “the last philosophical book.” Carnap—and other exponents of the Vienna Circle—elaborated on Wittengstein’s message. Toward the conclusion of his mentioned work (183.Rationalism?) he inserted:

REFERENCES. Wittgenstein has clearly formulated the proud thesis of omnipotence of rational science as well as the humble insight relative to its importance for practical life: “For an answer that cannot be expressed, the question too cannot be expressed. The riddle does not exist. If a question can be put at all, then it can also be answered… (…)” Wittgenstein summarizes the import of his treatise in the following words: “What can be said at all, can be said clearly, and whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”

That famous aphorism, which concludes the treatise, ought to have been interpreted as a confession of Gnostic humility, not as a “proud thesis of omnipotence of rational science.” All it takes is heeding all the implications of the opus. Just two aphorisms before the conclusive one, Wittgenstein states:

There really is ineffability. It shows itself, it is the mystic. (6.522)

All of the above almost a century ago. Why should we care anymore? Because the implications of rationalism, positivism, determinism, reductionism, mechanicism, have invaded the globe like a plague. Wittgenstein is not to be blamed; he transcended his epoch, though he also epitomized it by using and developing its newly-rediscovered and perfected tools—those of logics. (One noticeable objection to his Tractatus is the use of aphorisms and a highly subjective ordering criterion in lieu of a more systematically structured text. Why should logic be disemboweled, as it were, through an assortment of cryptic aphorisms?) His less gifted followers, through their historical misunderstanding, went off the (wrong) tangent. And that just in the field of logics. In all branches of knowledge, determinism came and went, or rather, ought to have gone, but has not—it has persisted, and has permeated the world, aided by the amplification of its staunchest ally, economic “progress.”

There follows a disrespectfully succinct summary of some of the “blows” that ought to have done away with determinism, mechanism, reductionism, Darwinism, etc. Those of you who are familiar with these scientific developments, need not read this section. Those who are not, may use it as an invitation for further reading into the works of the quoted scientists.

Euclidean geometry was superseded by non-Euclidean geometry, whose chief figures were: Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevski (1793-1856); János Bolyai (1802-1860); and Berhard Riemann (1826-1866). If Lobachevski’s and Bolyai’s recognition is posthumous, acceptance of non-Euclidean geometry occurred under the influence of Riemann’s ideas, in 1866, Eugenio Beltrami’s in 1868, and Felix Klein’s in 1871.

In 1927 Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976) published his indeterminacy, or uncertainty, principle. His radical reinterpretation of the largely Newtonian basic concepts of mechanics as applied to atomic particles in the context of quantum theory should have dealt the coup de grâce to Newton’s mechanics. (It did, as a matter of fact. Yet, the notion of time as mere “duration” is still cardinal to, for instance, the financial world, with repercussions of global proportions.)

Logical positivism was wounded at its core—its true/false coercion and ensuing tacit adherence to the principle of bivalence—by Jan Lukasiewicz’s (1878-1956) discovery of three-valued logic as early as in 1917, nota bene: before Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. Many-valued logic (and multivalued calculi) were to follow, aided by the flourishing of the Warsaw school of logic, for the inception of which Lukasiewicz is to be credited.

As for natural selection and the Darwinian world-view, coupled by the modern conventional molecular biological approach, which insists that when the DNA sequence of any organism be known, then all would be evident, and indeed all the reductionism and mechanisms it reeks of, it is becoming apparent, as Brian Goodwin and Gunther Stent, among others, suggest, that morphogenenis and development can be viewed as a dynamic system.

The theory of complexity is just coming out of the closet, gradually gaining ground among biologists, mathematicians, and philosophers alike.

In sum, all  the mentioned developments in different but ever more interrelated branches of knowledge point to the fact that the world, life, and the very essence of being—ontology—must be reinterpreted and re-investigated through an entirely new (or entirely revivalist, in a sense) approach. Organisms are not merely collections of parts, such as genes, molecules and the various components of their organs. And what is more, they are alive.

The prodigious proliferation of tarmac, concrete blocks, buildings and skyscrapers the world over; the ongoing, unprecedented process of global deforestation and outright desertification; the cultural homogenization the world has undergone, for the sake of a global one-size-fit-all subculture by which to supplant the previous, manifold endemic cultures; all of this seems to be an unstoppable process of appalling destructive magnitude.

Over a century and a half ago Karl Marx had predicted, in true oracular tradition albeit in the disguise of a “modern scientist of history”, that the world would move, in a dialectical spasm, towards a global international proletariat. The current century, according to his predictions, was to herald and confirm the birth of a classless, international, transnational and supranational worldwide proletariat. But Communism has failed bombastically, despite the tenacious and forceful efforts the various regimes exerted to keep it alive. Mankind has “regressed” to god-worshipping, and, what is worse, if there is one single, overriding trend in the twentieth century, that is the one of unbridled nationalism. Marx has been proven completely wrong, and his historical determinism, flawed to cultivate the art of euphemism.

But hundreds of millions, from the Soviet Union to China, from Cuba to Vietnam, have partaken, willy-nilly, in this colossal experiment of “forget your property (if any)-your religion-your customs-your instincts…” Possibly as a reaction, we are witnessing the reemergence of long-forgotten tribal instincts, as nightmarish scenarios reemerge from the shadow side of humanity—ethnic cleansing, religious wars, etc.

Androcratic, free-market, consumerist societies, with the US leading and inspiring the pack, have succeeded in making the world look the same by applying broad-sweeping concepts that are apparently at home everywhere, as they appeal to a component of the human psyche that most of us do not seem to be able to renounce—greed. An extraterrestrial observer, after a thorough evaluation of the world at the end of the twentieth century, could comment that it appears to be a Freudian and Adlerian delight—a turmoil of base instincts engendered by sex and power drives.

Caught in between these major and, although different, equally destructive forces, is a peculiar class of human beings: New Agers. How can they be characterized?

New Age (a sympathetic view)

Nowadays the Abrahamic religions are concerned with very un-Hermetic matters, while Freemasonry is no more than another fraternal order. In a way, this has been to the advantage of the Hermetic Tradition, which now no longer hangs on the fringes of other institutions. In fact, it has become its own church, developing its most exoteric side as the New Age movement. A backward glance at history confirms the diagnosis.

Like the Renaissance Hermetism that hoped to restore peace to Christendom and sanity to warring mankind, the New Age movement is ecumenical, undogmatic and pacifist. Like the alchemists, who believed that all matter is on its way to becoming gold, New Agers are dedicated to personal transformation and the realization of the latent potential in everyone. The occult sciences flourish, admittedly in their shallower modes, in divination systems (Tarot, Runes, I Ching), astrology, the science of plants (herbal medicine) and stones (crystals). Just as Paracelsus tramped through Europe chatting with woodsmen and wise women, the New Agers seek out and value the wisdom of indigenous peoples.

Like all exoteric manifestations, the New Age has its unfortunate aspects. But at its worst it is silly rather than vicious, and to our extraterrestrial observer it would seem the most humanistic and earth-friendly of all our religions. In addition, it offers doorways that are not sealed by dogma or religious authority, through which a self-selected few may pass to learn a deeper wisdom.

New Age (an unsympathetic view)

If New Age is all about awakening, why is it that it puts me to sleep? Those glossy book-covers with kitschy drawings; that recycled elevator music with pompous titles; and particularly those prophets or enlightened ones or whatever they are with their brand new catechism—they put me to sleep.

With all good faith I go to a “workshop”, that’s how it is called. So here is the enlightened one chatting away. The first impression to assail me is one of great torpor. But I can’t fall asleep, it would be impolite. So I listen. And what do I hear? A stupendous amount of conspicuous nonsense. Come to think of it, it is no small deed to amass so much nonsense in so little time. That’s noteworthy in itself, even if not necessarily praiseworthy.

I learn that we reincarnate 84,000,000 times; that I’ve got black ectoplasm pouring out of my mouth; that some of us are about to see ultraviolet lights; that extra-terrestrial beings with a third eye are watching (I wonder with which eye?), etc., etc. Although suspension of disbelief is a conditio sine qua non, there’s a curios infusion of pseudoscience too, so that terms are borrowed freely from physics, chemistry, biology, etc. They do make for a good mouthful. Stock phrases abound I suppose because there’s no grammar check to alert the enlightened one with “Stock phrase — use sparingly.” Logos is confused with Logorrhea.

Sentimentality of the basest kind thrives too, and that’s too bad, because there would seem to be room for humor. For example, from a catalogue of New Age books, here is a great title: Blame it on your Past Lives. Such a book actually exists. It should be a best-seller among losers, and I can already think of its sequel: Stake It All On Your Next Life!

Is that what it is? Am I surrounded by losers? As I was sitting among them Beck’s song kept revolving in my mind with its wicked refrain: “I’m a loser, baby, so why don’t you kill me?” Are all New Agers in dire need of therapy? Are they all seeking a psychic, emotional rescue? Should that be the case, then, out of compassion, I am bound to respect their misguided endeavors and say no more.

Indeed, New Agers, kitschy though they may be, are among the best representatives of the Western human race. For at least they sense that something is amiss. Unfortunately, they seem to do so only when something in their lives goes awry. Then they seek a remedy and, having rejected the Catholic confession, if they are Catholic; the gypsy tarot or palm reader; and the psychiatrist, they flock to this new breed of quacks, i.e., people who dispense reshuffled stock phrases in the guise of transcendental wisdom. How, why do they get away with it? They get away with it because those who attend their workshops and read their books are in most cases desperate people willing to believe and embrace anything.

We’ve all been there in our lives, helpless in the clutches of a depression. That’s when just about anything goes. Any painkiller capable of relieving us of our pain, we will welcome. In such a state of dire dejection, not only is suspension of disbelief automatically achieved, but the would-be enlightened will believe more than can be believed. And yet the Otherness is possessed of a sense of humor and, if you approach it so disarmingly, then you’ll probably never be able to sell it life insurance. The Otherness needs us, too, but has no interest in those who, having renounced a critical attitude, are willing to believe anything. The Otherness will snub such people altogether.

Those of you who have not read any typical New Age book must buy a few and see what I mean for yourselves. Usually the preface hastily informs the reader that the Author has been uncannily guided by such and such (a spirit, a reincarnation, a divine voice… ) and that (s)he has a message to impart, nay, the message. Then commences a long litany of rules. They’re listed in the most canonical causal order, i.e., from A follows B; from B, C, and so on. Apparently, the Revelation, the Message consists of a grocery list. Only, in lieu of carrots, bread and parsley, the list is made up of stock phrases borrowed from a half-digested potpourri of comparative religion/pseudoscience compiled by second-class book browsers.

On the other hand, those whose life is in apparent order—rich in familiar and professional satisfaction—those who are “normal and healthy” seldom feel a need to approach that which, in fact, is deeply buried within us all. And then there are the masses, those who watch five hours of TV a day, and are bombarded by unceasing commercial advertisements—an average of 21,000 of them in a year, in the US; those who have gone brain-dead and, although still psychophysically functional, have in effect become clockwork dummies.

Until, one day, one of such dummies is found, bound and gagged, strangled in a closet, or a basement. Eventually, the “normal and healthy” relatives, exceptionally stirred from their lifelong lethargy, learn from the police that their beloved was not murdered, but rather died of autoerotic death.

forbiddenAbout the author

Guido Mina di Sospiro is an award-winning, internationally published novelist born in Argentina, and raised in Italy. He belongs to an ancient aristocratic Italian family, and grew up in Milan in a multilingual home.

He trained as a classical guitarist and studied orchestration with the Swiss conductor Antoine-Pierre de Bavier, who had been Wilhelm Furtwängler’s favorite pupil. The Hungarian composer Miklós Rózsa, who wrote the soundtracks of “Ben-Hur,” “El Cid,” “Double Indemnity,” etc., and won three Academy Awards, used to spend his summers across from the Mina di Sospiro’s seaside home in Italy. Then in his seventies, he took young Guido under his wing and acquainted him with the University of Southern California, where he and Arnold Schönberg had taught composition.

At twenty, after attending the University of Pavia and making a feature film that premiered at the National Cinémathèque in Milan, Mina di Sospiro left Italy to attend USC School of Cinema-Television. Among his mentors were Ernest Lehman, Hitchcock’s favorite screenwriter and, later on, Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson, the celebrated English editor and publisher, who launched among others William Boyd, Peter Ackroyd and Paul Theroux.

Mina di Sospiro’s novel “The Story of Yew” (the memoirs of an age-old tree), published in the UK, is permanently featured on the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and has been translated into many languages, as has “From the River”, the memoirs of a mighty river. Both books have met with critical acclaim.

Mina di Sospiro currently lives in the DC area with his wife and their three sons, and travels often to Europe and elsewhere so as to promote the various editions of his books.

He has recently published the novel “The Forbidden Book,” co-authored with Joscelyn Godwin, the noted scholar of western esoteric tradition.

Guido Mina di Sospiro

Guido Mina di Sospiro

Guido Mina di Sospiro is an award-winning, internationally published novelist born in Argentina but raised in Italy who lives in the United States.

Mina di Sospiro’s novel The Story of Yew (the memoirs of an age-old tree), published in the UK, is permanently featured on the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and has been translated into many languages, as has From the River, the memoirs of a mighty river. Both books have met with critical acclaim. He is the co-author of the disinformation® book The Forbidden Book, co-authored with Joscelyn Godwin, and Publishers Weekly’s recent staff pick The Metaphysics Of Ping-Pong, published by Quest Books.
Guido Mina di Sospiro

31 Comments on "Two Takes On ‘New Age’"

  1. trompe l'oiel | May 14, 2013 at 10:35 am |

    magnificently told. very concise and honest. The new agers need to take themselves less seriously. it is foolish to do anything otherwise, we are the punchline of a cosmic stand up routine.

    • ParanoidCoast | May 14, 2013 at 11:24 am |

      I agree. Above all else, I sometimes feel life is absurd. All new-agers should watch Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil.”

  2. Robert Lai | May 14, 2013 at 10:45 am |

    There will always be the hucksters and always be the punters, and we all take on both rolls during our lives. Anything else is just window dressing and the fine and ancient art of distraction. Reading history, people as a whole never change. In every age men have complained of “Something Missing”. We live in times of ‘spiritual emptiness’? Find me an age that wasn’t.

    • the age of the early Christians, the age of the Buddha and his disciples, the pre-Socratic philosophers, some ancient shamanic cultures (native American), etc. Spiritual values were held in high regard then and virtue was more prosperous. Although, power has always been corrupt.
      The New Age would be the revival of Spirit.

      • Robert Lai | May 14, 2013 at 9:28 pm |

        And it’s always just around the corner, right? Reality corrupts, and the only pure thing is the one that doesn’t exist yet. Although, given that I’ve never been able to find a gap in my life to put the ‘spiritual’ into, maybe the New Age is already here and I just can’t see it for lack of any conception of what ‘Spirit’ could possibly be. Meh.

        • The only pure thing isn’t just the one that doesn’t exist yet, but instead it is that which exists, yet is unseen to those without the eyes to see. In the gospel of Thomas, Jesus’ disciples ask him when will the kingdom come and he replies, it is already here but you don’t see it. When you make the 2 into 1 and the male becomes female and female becomes male, then you will see the kingdom.
          Keep seeking this Unseen and Unknown Spirit and you will find it.

          • Robert Lai | May 16, 2013 at 9:58 am |

            I have absolutely no idea what that means!
            But you know what? I’m trying (with limited success) these days to let go of the whole “Just because that’s how I see it, it must be right” trip. So, you shine on you crazy diamond!

          • that’s a lofty goal you got there. but I commend you for trying. I don’t expect someone who has different experience sets to understand certain spiritual stuff that I say or write, but I still think its important to express it. there may come a day when you experience certain things, when all of a sudden strange spiritual stuff makes clear and perfect sense to you. its a good idea you are trying not to cling to hard to yer limited worldview, cause the day will surely come(for everyone) when the rug is pulled from underneath.
            strange times we’re living in, and they’ll get stranger. remember to establish yerself in the ground of being and simply put, keep it simple. don’t let yerself get all twisted up.

    • BuzzCoastin | May 14, 2013 at 7:15 pm |

      Hesiod definitely thinks men change & have changed over time
      his statement regards his description of the devolution of humanity
      from the age of Gold to his time, the worst yet to come
      and he was also a devoted follower of the Gods

      • Robert Lai | May 14, 2013 at 9:21 pm |

        This is true. And I do apologize to the memory of Hesiod for using his words to a meaning he wouldn’t have approved of. I do forget that Disinfo’s one of the few places where I can expect people to have read things. And have them call me on it. Thanks. Dishonesty corrected.

        • BuzzCoastin | May 14, 2013 at 9:31 pm |

          no harm, no foul
          if I hadn’t happened to reread Works & Days a week ago
          this probably would have slid by unnoticed

  3. mannyfurious | May 14, 2013 at 4:38 pm |

    Somebody greatly misinterpreted Wittgenstein. Ignoring the fact that he backtracked on much of his Tractacus when he wrote the “Philosophical Investigations,” we can still say that Wittgenstein was actually a strongly spiritual man who’s primary goal was very likely only to prove that there are certain things of which language (and any other way of symbolic communication) is simply incapable of expressing. His quote about “the mystic” was not an attempt to ridicule the religious at the altar of scientific rationalism, but simply an act of pointing out that “the mystic,” the true mystic, doesn’t do much talking (e.g. Lao-Tse’s famous quote), because the true mystic knows there’s a point where language is unable to go.

    Wittgenstein held science in higher esteem than philosophy but that’s only because he didn’t care much for philosophy. And he didn’t care much for philosophy only because he felt that philosophers were constantly trying to apply the rules and processes of science to metaphysics, which is akin to trying to play poker using the rules of basketball.

    Wittgenstein was actually very critical of the Vienna School and he didn’t think they had understood what he was talking about at all (which is primarily Wittgenstein’s fault for being so cryptic in his writings). I didn’t understand Wittgenstein at all myself for a number of years. But I felt an attraction to his work, and kept returning to it, until one day it hit me like a Tyson uppercut. And I saw that Wittgenstein had far more in common with many of the mystics of the world than with philosophers or scientists. He was a man of penetrating insight into things that language could only suggest.

    • First and foremost, the logicians from The Vienna Circle misinterpreted Wittgenstein in their bid to reconceptualize empiricism. And many others after them. I do break a lance for Wittgenstein. It is unfortunate, however, that he limited himself to canonical philosophy, which greatly frustrated him, instead of devoting some time to the cultivation of the philosophia perennis. We’ll never know, but both he and the world would have probably profited from that. He also helped Rainer Maria Rilke financially, as a testament to his keenness for things things spiritual.Having said that, he is overrated. Mainstream culture always needs someone to lionize.

      • mannyfurious | May 14, 2013 at 6:03 pm |

        Considering Wittgenstein overrated is certainly your prerogative. Personally I think he’s underrated, obviously.

        But in what world is he lionized by “mainstream culture?” I’d be willing to bet that less than 1-percent of the general population has even heard of him. And, furthermore, even in his own little universe (i.e. philosophy), he’s a controversial figure and is hardly “lionized.” Most other philosophers cannot even understand what he was talking about and many of the ones who do hate him for pointing out that they’re all just wasting their time.

        The fact is he has a rather small cult following (many of whose members probably “overrate” him) and has had almost no real effect on the world as a whole or on philosophy.

        • His Tractatus is universally acknowledged as one of the top five philosophical books of the 20th century. Is that lionizing enough? Of course, we are talking within the context of the canonical philosophical milieu. The Oxbridge intelligentsia, inter alios, thinks the world of him and he has cult status among them–and in the UK their influence is pervasive. To me he represents an artificial end of metaphysics and the last link in the chain of Aristotelian decomposition of philo-sophia, or should I say, philo-sophristry? Are you familiar with the philosophiia perennis? It might inspire you to embark in genuine philosophical investigations.

          • mannyfurious | May 15, 2013 at 11:46 am |

            There’s so much to address in this response that I don’t even know where to begin.

            You’re right, some major players in the philosophical world still hold Wittgenstein in high regard. However, they are hardly at the vanguard of the “mainstream.” That’s like saying that because some well-respected film critics enjoy the work of Fritz Lang, that Lang is lionized in the mainstream culture. It’s not true. And it’s not even true in the mainstream of Philosophy. Here in the US, Dennett has been one of the few vocal champions of Wittgenstein in the past 30 years or so. Both the majority of the continental and analytical philosophers have turned their back Wittgenstein for a number of reasons. His books are still held in high regard only because of the splash they made when they were first published and because, as you said, there are a number of well-respected people in the field who still champion his work. Furthermore, many people begrudginly bestow such merit on his work, because there isn’t exactly a plethora of great philosophy to choose from in the 20th century. Once you get past Wittgenstein, you’ve got BEING AND TIME and, MAYBE, BEING AND NOTHINGNESS. Beyond that, what? Maybe Husserl? Russell is fairly famous, but what work of his really stands the test of time? Chalmers’ book, perhaps. But I’m sorry, he is hardly “lionized” by either the mainstream culture as a whole or by contemporary philosophers.

            I do think it’s interesting that you identify Wittgenstein as a successor to Aristotle of sorts, because one of the things Wittgenstein was doing was criticizing the very things Aristotle took for granted. One of the things Wittgenstein was doing was criticizing the ancient Greeks for assuming certain things “just were” and not fully exploring what any of what they were saying meant. One of the first things my philosophy professor said when introducing Wittgenstein was that “he’s essentially going all the way back to Plato and pointing out all the ways he was a piss-poor philosopher,” which is one of the many reasons many philosophers hate him.

            I am familiar with the philosophia perennis. Thanks for asking. I am fairly well-read in the esoteric, although I think the best expression of the “philosophy” is in the far east. Chinese Taoism and Zen. I also think that the Upanishads were an interesting read. In “The West” I think, beyond many of the myths of the American Indian, Meister Eckhart had it down, as did many of the Quakers in the U.S. In the 20th century alone, I feel that Alan Watts and Joseph Campbell are the primary messengers of the philosophy (at least that I’ve read). Jung’s work on alchemy has been interesting, as well, although my concern is that “new agers” have a tendency to get caught up in the symbols of the perennial philosophy rather than in the truth. They keep looking at the finger instead of the moon, and what’s worse, they get all haughty about it. For a bunch of people whose egos are supposed to be non-existent, their egos sure are difficult to deal with.

          • The piece is not about Wittgenstein. The philosophia perennis is to be found all over the world, at different times–you notably left out Sufism, the Cabala, various neo-Platonic schools, Christian mystics, and many more. Alan Watts and Joseph Campbell are rather watered down and may serve at best as an introduction. For Taoism, I would recommend Lin Yutang, who also has a sense of humor and, of course, reads Mandarin. You don’t seem to be familiar with 20th century Traditionalists. Anyway, excerpting from my upcoming book “The Metaphysics of Ping-Pong” (from Chapter 13):

            In compiling my notes before leaving I’d consulted my old copy of the Tractatus. It was water-stained as, along with other books in my library, it had survived not entirely
            unscathed the destructive force of Hurricane Andrew, which hit Miami in 1992. This was a cherished book from my younger years, one in which, I’d believed, much wisdom
            had been distilled. And such a slim book, made up by a collection of numbered aphorisms, is considered to this day among the five most influential philosophical works of the twentieth century. Its penultimate aphorism reads: “My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.) He must transcend these propositions, and then he will see the world aright.”

            Wittgenstein borrows an analogy from Arthur Schopenhauer, a nineteenth-century German philosopher, and compares his own book to a ladder that must be thrown away after one has climbed it. That’s because through the philosophy of the book one must realize the utter meaninglessness of philosophy. Well, that will set the world aright, all right!

            Once more Lao Tzu’s exhortation echoed in my mind: “Banish wisdom, discard knowledge, / and the people
            shall profit a hundredfold.”

            A decade later, a Viennese philosopher and logician, Rudolf Carnap, wrote that “Wittgenstein has clearly
            formulated the proud thesis of omnipotence of rational science.” And then, in the book Philosophy and Logical Syntax, Carnap used the concept of verifiability to reject metaphysics altogether.

            So there it was: centuries and centuries of philosophical evolution had brought mankind triumphantly to this: the rejection of both philosophy and metaphysics. Some of the allegedly most brilliant minds in Europe had worked assiduously at the annihilation of the love of wisdom, and
            supplanted it with sophistry. With their blessing, the twentieth century could be, at long last, spiritually bankrupt—as, by and large, it has been in the western world.

            But early on in the twenty-first century, at 36,000 feet
            above our spinning Planet Earth, all this seemed tragicomically misguided. Not only Taoism, but also Zen, Sufism, the mystery religions, eastern and western
            esotericism, mysticism of different traditions—all have shown and continue to show us that the Perennial Philosophy is just that: perennial. Western
            theoretic philosophy, on the other hand, seems to have degenerated into sophistry and verbiage.

          • mannyfurious | May 15, 2013 at 4:07 pm |

            I don’t know what to even type.

            You are right on one thing. The piece wasn’t about Wittgenstein. But that’s what I felt like talking about at the time.

            You’re also right that I left out a bunch of practices of the perennial philosophy. That’s because, as you pointed out, it’s FUCKING EVERYWHERE. I’ve read a little bit of Sufi-ism, but there’s a whole lot of good stuff I’ll probably never get to read because my interests are far too wide. Right now I’m reading Mick Foley’s autobiography and it’s like 800 pages.

            Also Alan Watts and Joseph Campbell are not watered down. They just dropped all the bullshit and dispensed what was essential.

            Also: Your last sentence is the entire point of Wittgenstein’s philosophy. And I agree with it. I don’t know why you’re so intent on proving me wrong when all I’ve been saying is that Wittgenstein probably agreed with your point of view more than you realize.

          • When curse words enter the picture, it’s time to pull out; they really don’t belong in philosophical discourse, be it canonical or perennial. If we are agreed, anyway, it’s all the more high time to end this. We are interested in logos, I’m sure, not in logorrhea.

          • mannyfurious | May 15, 2013 at 6:03 pm |

            Fuck it. Why not? It’s much easier that way, right? To dismiss others because they don’t adhere to your arbitrary standards. Is that part of the perennial philosophy as well? Whoops, it would probably do my karma well to not question such an enlightened person.

            Either way, good luck and be well.

          • Calypso_1 | May 15, 2013 at 6:57 pm |

            Expression of the perianal philosophy is a dirty job but somebody has to do it.

          • mannyfurious | May 15, 2013 at 11:17 pm |

            I used to get jealous of friends of mine whose girlfriends were into the perianal philosophy.

          • Calypso_1 | May 16, 2013 at 12:52 am |

            I was thinking more along the lines of canine glandular impaction.

          • mannyfurious | May 16, 2013 at 10:43 am |

            Me too. What I was trying to say was that I used to get jealous of friends whose girlfriends were in vet school….

          • Calypso_1 | May 16, 2013 at 12:49 pm |

            Nice. That will bring me little moments of amusment for sometime to come : )

          • You too, Campbell reader; follow your bliss–which must be cursing! Ciao ciao

          • Calypso_1 | May 15, 2013 at 6:37 pm |

            I think you should write a fantastical bio for your Disqus profile. Just for an aire o je nai sais quoi.

  4. BuzzCoastin | May 14, 2013 at 7:25 pm |

    having a fixed POV or ideology in today’s whirled
    New Age or otherwise
    will only lead to confusion & suffering
    because it limits & inhibits the ability to respond to the whirled spontaneously

  5. Great article!

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