Thursday, 28 January 2016

Mark Porter gives a paper on 2.2.2016: 'Sounding back and forth: dimensions and directions of resonance in congregational musicking'

In this paper he aims to lay some initial conceptual foundations for later exploration of particular case studies in terms of resonance. He is going to survey existing social and sonic usages of the term and suggests the need to hold together a number of different understandings in order to take full advantage of resonance’s messy and expansive ability to point towards multi-directional and multi-dimensional complexes of relationships surrounding the activity of congregational music. He suggests, rather than aiming to arrive at a strict definition of resonance as a phenomenon, that it is useful to allow a degree of messiness and suggest, instead, that a list of questions might serve as a more useful starting point for further exploration.

The paper is part of the larger project on 'Axes of resonance in Christian congregational music':
The rise of contemporary worship music in the latter part of the 20th century has been bound up closely with ideals of personal authenticity. The use of popular musical styles in church is, at least in part, the result of a pragmatic desire for the music of the church to act as a natural expression of worshippers’ everyday lives, whilst at the same time the need for ‘personal sincerity’ in worship has resulted in an emphasis on the role of the individual’s inward attitudes in the activity of sung worship. As my own recent work, alongside that of a number of others has highlighted, this project has come to face numerous challenges over the course of its development: the diversity of musical lives present in contemporary society calls into question any straightforward relationship between individuals’ musical lives and the music employed in a congregational environment, whilst discourses and ideals of personal authenticity have led to contradictory and problematic dynamics as they have collided with the performative spaces of the commercialised worship industry and the social dynamics and needs of local church communities.

Such analyses are not limited to the academic realm, and a number of popular commentators have charted a generational retreat away from the pragmatic strategies of contemporary worship music environments. Sensing the need to articulate new understandings, some individuals have found themselves turning to alternative models and ideas in order to understand the contemporary musical practices they find themselves embedded within, exploring, for example an understanding of worship as a formational practice or as a sacramental activity. Such ideas challenge the notion of musical worship as a product of the authentic self in favour of the self as produced by and receptive of divine and social dynamics as transmitted through music. However, at the same time, they continue an on-going quest which sets out to describe and prescribe an appropriate relationship between the individual and the social, spiritual and musical context that they find themselves in within congregational worship.
Such dynamics can usefully be illuminated by an appeal to Hartmut Rosa’s application of the concept of resonance. We can understand the quest for authenticity in musical worship as one particular attempt at forming a resonant relationship between individual, world, group, music and the divine. The individual, through a dynamic of authenticity stemming from both protestant theology and consumer ideologies, is able to appropriate the world around them through its reflection of their everyday self and through their investment and expression into it of their inner spiritual devotion. If this relationship breaks down, then we can ask whether this might be a result of the situation of the contemporary worship music industry’s appropriation of and situation within the paradoxical dynamics and conditions of modernity. At the same time, we can potentially see the quest of the Millenials as a search for alternative models of world resonance, embarking on precisely the same task as a previous generation of worshippers but setting out on a range of different paths in order to do so. This research project will take such contemporary dynamics as its starting point in order to explore the concept of resonance as it applies to Christian congregational music. If the quest for resonance through patterns of personal authenticity has found itself encountering significant challenges, then what axes and processes of resonance can we trace through Christian congregational music’s long and diverse period of existence? What forms of resonance does congregational music permit? What processes have enabled individuals to appropriate this musical and social environment in a resonant manner? How do social and sonic theories of resonance complement, contradict or combine in congregational music?

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Antje Linkenbach, Reflections upon religious individualisation in historical perspective with regards to Hindu textual traditions and Bhakti poetry

In her last working paper (Werkstattbericht) the author asked whether one could identify concepts that are central for today’s Human Rights discourse in classical texts from the Hindu traditions. In particular she was looking for concepts like human dignity or human value and analyzed passages from the Upanisads, Dharma- and Arthasastra. Subsequently she concentrated on the Bhagavadgita and selected Bhakti-poetry, however this was not part of the report.
The following paper picks up an earlier suggestion of the plenum of the Kollegforschergruppe on individualisation in historical perspective and tries to discuss how far her mentioned project can contribute to the topic of “individualization”. Looking at the previously examined texts she especially tries to reflect upon the concepts of agency, relationality, dividuality and multiple personae.

Bhakti - Poems

1.          Conscious confessions of one's own ignorance and untouchability

Example 1: Chokamela (13.Jh.), Follower of Vithobas from Pandharpur (Maharashtra), a Mahaear or tanner:

„We know neither science nor Puranas,
About the World we know nothing –
The intricacies of the Agamas and the secrets of the Nigamas
And all the truths contained in the Sastras, we do not know!
Of Yoga and of sacrifices, of the eight spiritual paths,
Of alms, of vows and austerities, we know nothing!
Says Choka. O God, in my candid devotion,
I’ll simply sing Your Name, o Kesava!...“
(in Heehs 2002:332-3)

Example 2: Tukaram (1608-1649), a varkari-bhakta from a village close to Pune, also a follower of  Vithobas:

„I was born in a Sudra family, thus was set free from all pride.
Now it is thou who art my father and mother, O Lord of Pandhari!
I have no authority to study the Vedas; I am helpless in every way,
humble in caste, says Tuka. 

2. Individual leaving of roles predefined by society
Example: Mirabai, daughter of a leader of the Rajputes, born in 1498.

Paga bāʼndha ghūʼngharyāʼn ņācyāʼnrī

Ich tanzte mit Fußglöckchen an meinen Füßen.
„Mīrā ist wahnsinnig“, sagten die Leute,
„Diese Sippenzerstörerin“, schimpfte die Schwiegermutter.
Den Giftbecher schickte ihr der König,
Mīrā lachte, als sie ihn austrank.
Körper und Geist habe ich zu Haris Füßen geopfert,
Bei seinem Anblick werde ich Nektar trinken.
Mīrās Herr ist Giridhara Nāgara,

In Deine Zuflucht werde ich gelangen.
(Mirabai 2006)

My eyes are greedy. They’re beyond turning back.
They stare straight ahead, friend, straight ahead,
coveting and coveting still more.
So here I am, standing at my door
to get a good look at Mohan when he comes,
Abandoning my beautiful veil and the modesty
that guards my family’s honor, showing my face,
Mother-in-law, sister-in-lay: day and night they monitor,
lecturing me about it all and lecturing once again.
Yet my quick, giddy eyes will brook no hindrance.
They’re sold into someone else’s hands.
Some will say I’m good, some will say I’m bad –
whatever their opinion, I exalt it as a gift,
But Mira is the lover of her Lord, the Mountain-Lifter.
Without him, I simply cannot live.
(Hawley 2005:111)

3.  Criticisms of religions and institutions, including of representations of female roles; advocating personal relationships to God

Example: Kabir (born ca. 1440), Varanasi, from the casts of weavers
What’s the use of ablutions, litanies, purifications
         and prostrations in the mosque?
If you pray with a heart full of guile
         what’s the use of Haj and Kaaba?
Twenty-four times the Brahman keeps the eleventh-day fast,
         while the Qazi observes the Ramzan:
Tell me, why does he set aside the eleven months
         to seek spiritual fruit in the twelfth?
Hari dwells in the East, they say
and Allah resides in the West,
Search for Him in your heart, in the heart of your heart:
There He dwells, Rahim-Ram!
(in Vaudeville 1993: 217-18)

Vain-glorious of authority, you make me to be circumcised; never will I endure it, brother!
If it is God that makes thee to be circumcised, why came not this cutting of itelf?
If by circumcision one becomes Turk, what then will be said of your women?
‚Half the body’, so the wife is styled; then you still remain Hindu!
By putting on the sacred thread, does one become a Brahman?
What has thou given to women to wear?
She from birth is but a Sudra! Why dost thou eat the food she brings, O Pande?
(in Keay 1995:12-13)

4.  Criticising the religious legitimacy of hierarchy

Example: Kabir

If the Creator
had invented caste
Why didn’t He mark the Brahmans at birth
with the triple line?

A Shudra you were born,
a Shudra you die!
Why do you befool the world
with that contrived ‚sacred Thread’?

If you are a Brahman,
born from a Brahmani,
Why didn’t you enter this world
through a different path?

If you are a Turk,
born from a Turkini,
Why didn’t God himself
circumcise you in the womb?

Says Kabir,
there are no low-born:
This man alone is vile
who des not invoke Ram.
(in Vaudeville 1993:218-19)

5.  Criticising the outruling of the lower jatis and so-called untouchables, and the absurdity of untouchability

Example: Kabir
It’s all one skin and bone,
one piss and shit,
one blood, one meat.
From one drop, a universe.
Who’s Brahmin? Who’s Shudra?
(in Hess/Singh 2001:19)

Pandit, look in your heart for knowledge.
Tell me where untouchability
came from, since you believe in it.
Mix red juice, white juice and air –
a body bakes in a body.
As soon as the eight lotuses
are ready, it comes
into the world. Then what’s
Eighty-four-hundred thousand vessels
decay into dust, while the potter
keeps slapping clay
on the wheel, and with a touch
cuts each one off.

We eat by touching, we wash
by touching, from a touch
the world was born.
So who’s untouched? asks Kabir. ....
(in Hess/Singh 2001:17):

6.  Respect and elevation by God, the utopia of the subjugated

Example: Raidas or Ravidas, Chamar and shoemaker, born ca. 1377

 „Creator, I am Your wretched servant!
Grant Your vision  to this hopeful one.
My soul is restless for Your vision.

 You are first and last, God and man,
You manifest as angel and man.
You are the refuge sought by Pirs and prophets,
What have I, poor and dirty, to fear?

Till now I was an unhonoured shoemaker,
a wretched servant of yours.
I can get no answer at Your door,
 Raidas says, I am wretched.

God, if I did not sin, Infinite One,
how could Your name be „Uplifter of the fallen“?
(in Heehs 2002:368

The regal realm with the sorrowless name:
they call it Queen City, a place with no pain,
No taxes or cares, none owns property there,                        
no wrongdoing, worry, terror, or torture,
Oh my brother, I’ve come to take it as my own,
my distant home, where everything is right.
That  imperial kingdom is rich and secure,
where none are third or second – all are one.
Its food and drink are famous, and those who live there
dwell in satisfaction and in wealth.
They do this or that, they walk where they wish,
they stroll through fabled palaces unchallenged.
Oh, says Ravidas, a tanner now set free,
those who walk besides me are my friends.
(Hawley 2005:333-334)


Andrés Quero-Sánchez, „The Head and Father of True Philosophy“: Schelling‘s Philosophy of Identity and Plato’s Understanding of Being – A Political Approach

Here the introduction to the paper that Andrés Quero-Sánchez delivers today at the Max-Weber-Center:
Schelling’s ‚Philosophy of Identity‘ – what exactly is that? The classical answer to this question is a merely historical one, by stating that this term designates Schelling’s philosophical achievements from 1801 –that is to say: from his Description of the System of My Philosophy– up to 1809, when, after having moved from Würzburg to Munich in 1806, he started an (at least to some extent) new period in his philosophical development with his Philosophical Inquiries into the Essence of Human Freedom. Now – what are the central theses or even the one central thesis of this philosophical period (1801–1809)? It is surely not easy to answer this question. Scholars have been looking for an answer by analysing the differences existing between the writings of this period and those of the previous one, which, as is well known, came about under the influence of Fichte’s Theory of Science, constituting the so-called ‚transcendentalphilosophy period‘ of Schelling’s philosophy.1 The assumption was here that Schelling’s Philosophy of Identity is primarily to be seen as a particular development, maybe as a misunderstanding, of Fichte’s Theory of Science. We have to see the origin of Schelling’s Philosophy of Identity therefore, so it seems, in the context of the Philosophy of German Idealism, not only because of the influence of Fichte’s philosophy as mentioned before, but primarily because of the impact of Kantian philosophy on the young Schelling during his first philosophico-theological studies at the Tübinger Stift. As Wilhelm G. Jacobs wrote: „Schelling had taken the beginning [of his philosophy] from Kant“.2 Of course, we know, on the one hand, of the crucial role that Plato’s dialogues had played during Schelling’s early studies at the Tübinger Stift, with some of Schelling’s papers and notes on Plato as well as a relatively long commentary on Timaeus having survived from that time. Should we not speak therefore of a ‚Platonic beginning of Schelling’s philosophy‘? The dominant thesis states, however, that the young Schelling was here interpreting Plato from a Kantian point of view.3 On the other hand, we know of the crucial role mysticism had played in Schelling’s early education, with his parents being strongly influenced by Swabian Pietism. Schelling’s first publication, the Elegy Sung at Hahn’s Grave (Elegie bei Hahn’s Grabe gesungen) (1790) was dedicated to one of the most important representatives of Swabian Pietism: Philipp Matthäus Hahn, whom the young Schelling personally knew. Some scholars tried to emphasize such a ‚pietistic substratum‘;4 they did so, however, only with regard to some aspects of Schelling’s Philosophy of Nature as well as to some passages in his Philosophy and Religion (1804). Mystical influence is, of course, especially palpable in Schelling’s writings from 1809 onwards: Franz von Baader, Friedrich Christoph Oetinger, Jakob Böhme, as well as, which I think I have managed to show in the years past, Meister Eckhart, Johannes Tauler and the Pseudo-Taulerian Book of Spiritual Poverty. 5 As far as I can see, no scholar, apart from Kurt Leese in his Hamburg PhD under Ernst Cassirer, published here in Erfurt in 1927,6 and –if I may– myself in some recently published studies,7 has ever seen any important relationship between, on the one hand, Schelling’s Philosophy of Identity and transcendental Philosophy, and, on the other hand, mysticism.

It is important to emphasize, however, that I am not claiming that Schelling’s philosophy is based upon an irrationalistic ground, but rather that mysticism –at least if one understand it in the way Schelling did (and I think this is actually the right way to understand it)– presents itself a rational structure, especially a particular (!) conception of reason, which, strictly speaking, cannot be called ‚a particular‘ one, since ‚absolute reason‘ as a revitalisation of what I‘d like to call ‚mystical reason‘ is presupposing the neutralization of ‚particularity‘ as such. I will try to show in what follows, first, to what extent the understanding of reason which is characteristical of Schelling‘s Philosophy of Identity should be considered a revitalisation of ‚mysticism‘ (Chapter II: ‚Schelling’s Philosophy of Identity‘). [...]. [...]. [...]. Thirdly, and finally, I will discuss how far such a mystical understanding of reason –the one, as I said, constituting the Philosophy of Identity– was already shaping Schelling‘s early reading of Plato’s dialogues at the Tübinger Stift (Chapter IV: ‚Schelling’s Early Reading of Plato‘). By doing so, I am suggesting that Schelling’s Philosophy of Identity is not a particular development or a misunderstanding of Fichte’s Theory of Science or of Kantian philosophy, but rather Schelling’s development of his own philosophical position, which was from the beginning strongly influenced by mysticism and played a determinant role even with regard to Schelling’s understanding of Plato, Kant and Fichte.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Esther Eidinow reads a paper on "Beware of the Wolf: Reading Plato on Mt. Lykaion"

This paper developed from wondering about contemporary attitudes to Greek myths of metamorphosis. It examines one well-known and very brief mention of an Arkadian werewolf myth in Plato’s Republic, used in his description of the development of a tyrant. The passage has usually been read as a source for the rituals that are assumed to have taken place in the sanctuary of Zeus Lykaios on Mount Lykaion in Arkadia. These rituals, some argue, involved a human sacrifice and the consumption of human flesh, after which a man ‘became a wolf’; if, after nine years, he had not tasted human flesh again, he returned to humanity, otherwise he remained a wolf. But such an interpretation of the passage fails to offer a parallel to the case of the tyrant, who, Plato makes clear, cannot be redeemed. This paper suggests that a clearer sense of the analogy may emerge from reconsideration, first, of the myth’s narratives: this enables the drawing out of possible alternative contemporary meanings. But, in addition, the historical and geographical contexts of this analogy are also important, and this paper explores the question of why Plato chose to draw specifically on an Arkadian myth.
The paper is part of a wider project that aims to progress research on the interaction between the individual and ‘culture’ in the context of ancient Greek religion, focusing on questions of the nature, process and conception of change in ritual practice and beliefs over time and place. It builds on two arguments: first, a recasting of ‘embeddedness’ which facilitates a particular focus on the role of the individual and/or institution as relational (using Harrison White’s conception of social network theory); second, within that new version of ‘embeddedness’, a potential reconfiguration of the conception of the individual that emphasises the role and perception of the ‘relational self’ in both a cosmological framework (involving relations with supernatural entities) and the socio-political framework (of larger groups and communities, including, but not only, the polis). The project centres on narratives as constitutive of relational networks, and this research project is focusing on myths of mortal metamorphosis.