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Mapping

February 16, 2012

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If you’re dorky like me, you might enjoy mapping ideas and authors onto foamcore, and adding origami balloons just for kicks.

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Housemate Aneeta and I just began mapping a few days ago. Spatial funtimes with Socially Engaged Buddhism for me; radical history timeline for her (starting with themes of Palestine and capitalism). Maybe soon she’ll give me permission to post some photos of her map.

At this stage, these are seedling projects. I hope to be conversing with my map for the next year or so. We’ll check back in after a little while, and you can see how it changes and grows!

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Got any helpful tips about this kind of thing? I’ve never done one before. I’m on the lookout for the book Mapping the Intelligence of Artistic Work; An Explorative Guide to Making, Thinking, and Writing, recommended by two Goddard faculty. Any other resources come to mind? Or lessons from your own experience? (Sycorax, I’m looking at you. ;)

Also, I’m always on the lookout for great books, articles, videos, art, etc. about Socially Engaged Buddhism (loosely defined), so if you got ’em, send ’em my way plz!

love,

katie

8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2012 11:08 am

    We are reading Rothberg’s book in our newly formed engaged Buddhism group at my Zen center. If I have any additions for your map, I’ll let you know.

  2. February 16, 2012 2:21 pm

    Great, thanks Nathan! If your group produces any collaborative writings or stumbles upon good reading material, let us know — maybe we could even read something at the same time, between your group and the group at Berkeley Zen Center. :)

  3. ei powell permalink
    February 16, 2012 5:21 pm

    awesome! i might copy you :)

  4. Kate Devlin permalink
    February 23, 2012 11:57 am

    Very interesting blog. I’ve been trying to combine or reconcile spirituality and radical politics or, more specifically Marxism and Buddhism.I’m not as familiar with socially engaged Buddhism as I should be. I have read Tich Nhat Hanh and I’ve heard of Alice Walker,but I haven’t read her yet.

    The New Buddhism by David Brazier, his interpretation of Buddhism as being originally a revolutionary “ideology” is an interesting read, although its probably ahistorical.

    I wonder if you’re familiar with Ken Knabb and his friendly critique of socially engaged Buddhism?

    Also,I thought Ernst Bloch’s Principle of Hope was very interesting, although I’ve only read volume 1.

  5. February 24, 2012 11:20 am

    Great to hear from you, Kate! Always exciting to find fellow seekers asking questions about marxism and buddhism, and how they might live / be lived together. :)

    Thanks for the recommendations: I’m excited to look for Brazier and Bloch; I’d read Knabb’s 1993 critique, but not the follow-up. Looks interesting. I’d love to hear your thoughts on his critiques, and specifically (1) whether it’s desirable or even possible to formulate a Buddhist social analysis; (2) why Engaged Buddhist discourses seem to have so little to say about major revolutionary movements, past and present; and (3) how we might orient toward 8-fold-path living while avoiding the dead end of (dhammic) utopian socialism, which is so easily co-opted or crushed by the state.

    Again, great to hear from you, and I hope we get to dialogue more — i’d love to learn more about what you’re up to in life!

  6. Kate Devlin permalink
    February 24, 2012 5:28 pm

    Ken Knabb seems like an interesting person. I had a brief email exchange with him a few years ago. His description of his frustration with elements of the EB movement is interesting.I don’t have a lot of insight into this myself but the questions are very important.

    I would say the popularity and persistence of utopian socialist ideas and projects-I have known someone connected with the Damenhur intentional community project whom I have a great deal of respect for and I viewed as a fiery revolutionary-is due partly to the fact that Marxism isn’t well known. Very well meaning people looking for alternatives are forced to reinvent the wheel. Another reason might be the class basis. Many counter cultural projects are oriented to the petty bourgeoisie.People are looking for alternatives but lack an orientation to the working class. The history of Stalinist and authoritarian deformation didn’t help either.

    I believe much value in the Marxist tradition draws from what Sufis call the “Imaginal realm” Cyril Smith wrote an interesting essay showing the influence of 17th century Hermeticism on Hegel and on Marx. He sees Marx as being in the tradition of Blake.

    http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/smith-cyril/works/articles/magic.htm

    http://libcom.org/library/karl-marx-human-self-creation-cyril-smith

    This tradition I think is very important for any project for human liberation.

    Norman Brown talks about some of this in “Life Against Death”. Its billed as a Freudian view of history but its actually more of a mystical interpretation of Freud, of liberating humanity from history.(I didn’t realize Brown was a Marxist until recently)

    Its interesting that Sufi groups were active in revolutionary movements including the Bolshevik revolution and anti-colonialist struggles. There’s a story that Franz Fanon joined a Sufi group when he was in Algeria.

    As far as how this would apply to an activist approach I don’t really know.I have thought about this.Ken Knabb has an interesting story of his involvement in Occupy Oakland where he and someone else attempted to diffuse a tense situation by attempting a sitting meditation.The situation wasn’t conducive to this but he said under the right circumstances this can be very effective.

    Paul Shackley is interesting.He’s an academic in the UK.His Marxism is conventional though.

    http://www.zen118085.zen.co.uk/general/whatiszenmarxism.htm

    Sorry to be so long winded. Your blog gave me inspiration. I live in the New England area and I’m in a small Trotskyist group, Socialist Alternative.

  7. DevinM permalink
    February 27, 2012 12:59 pm

    I don’t have much concrete to say, but I wanted to thank you for this post (and your blog, which I follow via RSS). I like the concept of mapping things visually. I am also educating myself about engaged Buddhism, and found it interesting to look at the names in the pictures as well.

  8. March 3, 2012 8:19 pm

    dope, DevinM! if you come across something super interesting in your studies, please come back and share!

    Kate, no apologies, please! The connections you’re explaining are hella fascinating; I want to try to follow some of those threads. And definitely want to find the Knabb piece on Occupy Oakland. Thanks for sharing; let’s keep talking.

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