Category Archives: Beyond Postmodernism

Beyond Postmodernism and Postmodernity.

Review: Envisions a Unified World

The_Globe200Envisions a Unified World —Bob Dixon-Kolar, Assistant Professor of English, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, Illinois
April 28, 2016

“To those coming to The Parliament of Poets without having read other things by Glaysher (such as his essays or other poems), let me point out that the author identifies at a deep soul-level with the world-renowned poets who inhabit his contemporary epic. His book is an intellectual achievement, yes. But it is much more than that—it is the artistic culmination of a long spiritual journey.

Glaysher’s alter-ego in the epic (Persona) encounters Ralph Waldo Emerson and implores him,

‘Tell me how to go on from here, how to raise
a universal song For All Mankind,
as universal as the morning wind.’

This, as I understand it, is Glaysher’s heart-felt desire. If you choose to read The Parliament of Poets—and I hope that you will!—know that you are reading a devotional work of a poet-seer, one who yearns for and envisions a unified world in which spiritual verities draw all people together.”

Frederick Glaysher

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The Humanities in Crisis

Plato

Plato

The Humanities in Crisis

In higher education the political and partisan battles, so hardened, are of less concern to me than the ideological ones, which run deeper, to my mind. Genuine openness to debate is what often gets crushed out of existence in my experience of English departments.

The “culture wars,” as so often construed on “both sides,” amount to too narrow a slice of human experience, in my view, which is much of the problem. The culture of the humanities is deadlocked in narrow terms and thinking. I think too that the humanities today have become based on a far too limited conception of the humanities, in our extremely fragmented society, accepting a meta-narrative, an ideology, that actually works against the humanities, while closing off to other views of life that might help reinvigorate them and help reach people more broadly with the serious reflection that the liberal arts at their best are capable of offering.

Human experience is much deeper and profound than what the humanities have come to allow in our time, creating a disharmony that has deeply damaged itself and contemporary culture. One often hears the underlying fear implicit in the humanities as a backward movement to fundamentalism, Christian or otherwise, as though there were no other possibilities. Academic secular formalism and nihilism, however, are just fine, and almost invariably the prescribed ideology.

The ideological issues at stake on *both sides* are flawed, neither allowing a full debate, since each is stuck in categories of thought grounded in exclusivism. Following Jacques Barzun’s From Dawn to Decadence, I believe the extreme polarization of our time is what’s the most telling, though disturbing, fact, and is the clearest evidence of decadence, exactly what the humanities today so rarely considers, conceiving and caricaturing it again only in terms redolent of right-wing Christian fundamentalism.

My argument isn’t against the university or what is salutary from the Enlightenment, but to point out the flaws on all sides and the way we can make relatively modest adjustments in our thinking and culture that would help resolve our endemic crises. Unfortunately, in my experience, the humanities remain closed off to any real debate, virtually guaranteeing their continuing decline.

I feel saddened by what’s happened to the humanities. It’s partly why for the past forty years I’ve continued to study and write my poetry and essays… struggling for, I’d like to think, a whole new way of looking at modern experience and our many problems. The difficulty that I’ve had is finding capable readers willing to consider a serious literary and cultural vision other than what’s become dominant. Seeking unity in a time of extreme fragmentation, I constantly run up against the experience of one syllable closing minds on all sides. Eventually, it drove me to the moon…

Frederick Glaysher

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Earthrise Press Free Shipping in the USA, UK, AU

Earthrise Press The Globe

Earthrise Press
The Globe

Earthrise Press Free Shipping in the USA, UK, AU

Now free shipping in the USA, UK, and Australia, processed within 24 hours. That amounts to more than 911 million potential readers of English of the world’s approximately 1.8+ billion speakers of English. Printers also in Milton Keynes, UK, and Scoresby, Australia. In Europe and the UK, the VAT is added at checkout. DRM-free eBooks, hardcover, and softcover.

I think I’ve reached a new threshold with my more than a decade and a half of struggling with the Post-Gutenberg Revolution in what is now a major technical improvement for EarthrisePress.Net — I’ve long thought that there must be a way in the Digital Age for artists and writers to make a living from their art in some way by going around all the traditional middle men and the newer mega-portals of online sellers that are attempting to create their own monopolies. In fact, I wrote a more than twenty-page essay, “The Post-Gutenberg Revolution: A Manifesto,” to this effect, in my book The Myth of the Enlightenment, which expands on all of what I think is involved in this major shift in civilization.

Previously, I had to sell hardcover and softcover books through one credit card payment system and ebooks through another, which was cumbersome and discouraging for people buying more than one book. But Gumroad, a very creative venture in San Francisco, has recently put the two features together which also allows me to plug into the major worldwide printing network of Ingram Book Company’s Lightning Source for the fulfillment and printing of hardcover and softcover books.

I’m rather astonished that I can now do this… all from one website… whether someone orders an ebook, a hardcover, or a softcover on EarthrisePress.Net, Gumroad’s SSL servers handle the financial transaction, adds the correct VAT for the UK, Euro Zone, and Australia. If it is a printed book, Gumroad processes the order, forwarding the shipping address to Earthrise Press and then I or my staff can order and have the book printed and shipped in any of the already mentioned regions with *free shipping* since the numbers work for everyone concerned with this configuration. Many people have become accustomed to buying music and books from the mega-portals, but why? I would say there was no real alternative. Now there is, precisely what some musicians have done with their own websites, and J. K. Rowling with at least her ebook website.

The exact same printed or digital book goes out into the hands of the reader, in several possible formats, mobi/Kindle, ePub, PDF, Android / iOS, etc., hardcover, softcover, whatever. Given all the animosity around the world against some of the major venues, I believe this might very well be a way of providing an alternative for artists and writers, and, not to forget, readers, who don’t want to support a monopoly…

I have long believed what’s needed is the *example* of a writer who figures all this out and puts it together in the actual world on a *global* level, setting the *example* of what is indeed now possible… by actually doing it. I wrote my epic poem with a global audience in mind, and now I believe it is possible to sell it to the entire world through the revolutionary developments of the Post-Gutenberg Age.

I’m encouraged that, as someone who has spent most of his adult life sitting in rooms alone reading books, my epic has found its way to as many readers as it has around the world… with more than 36 blurb/reviews since late November 2012.

I know it often took in the past a long time for a book that presented a truly new way of looking at life to *reach humanity* and realize I shouldn’t entirely expect anything else, all the more given that I’m addressing not merely Western Civilization but all of the major regional civilizations around the planet. We human beings are inured to our nationalistic isolation. The Unity of humanity? What could be more absurd!!

Frederick Glaysher

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Quantum Physics and Poetry – Reflections

Circinus galaxy

Circinus galaxy

Quantum Physics and Poetry – Reflections

“The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass, God is waiting for you.” —Werner Heisenberg. 1932 Nobel Prize in Physics, “for the creation of quantum mechanics.”

The great scientific contribution in theoretical physics that has come from Japan since the last war may be an indication of a certain relationship between philosophical ideas in the tradition of the Far East and the philosophical substance of quantum theory.” —Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy, 1958

“All of us living beings belong together in as much as we are all in reality sides or aspects of one single being, which may perhaps in western terminology be called God while in the Upanishads its name is Brahman.” —Erwin Schrodinger, Nobel Prize for Physics, 1933; My View of the World (95)

“The general notions about human understanding… which are illustrated by discoveries in atomic physics are not in the nature of things wholly unfamiliar, wholly unheard of, or new. Even in our own culture they have a history, and in Buddhist and Hindu thought a more considerable and central place.” —J. Robert Oppenheimer, Science and the Common Understanding, 1954 Oxford UP (8-9)

“For a parallel to the lesson of atomic theory… [we must turn] to those kinds of epistemological problems with which already thinkers like the Buddha and Lao Tsu have been confronted.” —Niels Bohr, Foundations of Quantum Physics II (20)

“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” —Max Planck, theoretical physicist (1858–1947)

 

After having had a class in high school in world religions in which I had done all of the reading, East and West, the scriptures of all of the major world religions, as a young poet I read George B. Leonard’s book The Transformation: A Guide to the Inevitable Changes in Humankind, in 1972, when it first came out. He was the vice-president of the Esalen Institute and one of the most articulate and far-sighted persons in the then-emerging human potential movement on the West Coast. It’s not an exaggeration to say I devoured his book, reading and rereading it. Unfortunately, Leonard’s book has perhaps somewhat fallen off the map, but it still speaks insightfully to the core problems of today, the need for a new sense of human consciousness on this planet. Following Leonard’s citations, I branched into Alan Watts, Carlos Castenada, Buckminster Fuller, Ram Dass, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Indries Shah, Rumi and Attar, and others basically open and universal in outlook, especially the many books by Arnold Toynbee and Huston Smith, the latter beginning in the early years of the 1970s. Leonard also introduced me to Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Quantum Mechanics, and ever more into Leonard’s general openness to the East and to new conceptions of what is human, all of which I found myself still grappling with more than thirty-five years later, when I wrote my epic poem The Parliament of Poets. Leonard sums up The Transformation when he writes, “The time is overdue for the emergence of a new vision of human and social destiny and being.” We are now in the full flood of that time.

Similarly, Ervin Laszlo, long recognized as one of the most thoughtful and perceptive voices of the new consciousness movement, has written that many people are increasingly experiencing and awakening to a shift in consciousness, to “a subtle sense that we have lost touch with ourselves, and with the world” and that “we are in a race with time.” “We either make it together, or we may not make it at all.”

Having continued studying the Old and New Testaments and Islam with formal study in each at the University of Michigan, I came to feel that the traditional conception of religion, grounded in exclusivism, has become much of the problem, East and West, while the value of the way we actually live, mixed and poured together, especially in democratic pluralism, too often receives insufficient recognition by what purports to be “religion.” Quantum Physics intimates a whole new way of understanding “religion” that can help heal the psychic wounds of modernity.

Part of our current problem, of our cultural moment, given the extreme degree to which we’ve become so fragmented, is that much of the culture, especially the academy, insufficiently understands its own claim of exclusive truth, its own meta-narrative, so locked in has the time become to various forms of exclusivism based in nihilism, if not atheism, that it is closed off to any type of spirituality, including even what Quantum Physics suggests, and so nihilism has not only Western civilization in a death grip but much of the world.

Broadly, much of the university, especially the humanities, to the extent that its vision of life entails nihilism, cynicism, endless formalisms, Marxism, frivolity, which cannot be questioned, but are held in sacrosanct exclusive possession of the truth, usually justified with vague to perfunctory, knee-jerk allusions to the Enlightenment, as though that settled all of the profound human questions that people have asked throughout the ages for the rest of eternity, constitutes and represents the dehumanization of our time, i.e., both the traditional religions and nihilism are ironically sinking in the same boat.

Traditionally, “real religion” was always defined in terms of exclusivism, the challenge now is to realize that in a world of Quantum Physics “real religion,” ipso facto, can only be defined in terms of universality, which is why the proponents of exclusivism who still cling to the old forms, whether “religion” or “secular,” continue to lose ground, while the torch has passed to other hands, though often not informed to the same degree historically and culturally, which creates its own type of problematic fragmentation, yet seeking what’s open, universal, beyond the old limitations that have created all the trouble in the first place.

The Greeks and other ancients wrote and recorded scientific discoveries in poetry because they believed it was the best language in which to convey the implications, often of unity and oneness, in terms of a universe composed of atoms, which is also partly my thinking behind writing, The Parliament of Poets, because it is the best language with which to grapple with the implications of Quantum Physics. Similarly, I’d argue, the great Sufi poets realized there were things which can be said best only with the tongue of poetry…

The global confrontation with the mode of thinking in the old exclusive forms impels our Age to come to terms with resolving the negative baggage of modernity, of the Enlightenment, in a way that is both intellectually and spiritually satisfying and acceptable to people, broadly speaking, ideally, from all walks of life and points of view, traditional and secular, East and West. I believe Quantum Physics now makes that possible.

While not formulaic, I think it’s the imaginative and artistic exploration of what the meaning and implications of Quantum might be, for human consciousness and otherwise, that can help us understand the problematic dimensions of the traditional claims to exclusivism, in a more universal, moderate, peaceful, and scientific framework. Equally, the problematic dimensions of science become Scientism needs to confront the spiritual implications of its own research in the fullness of the cultural perspective with which only the humanities and traditional religions can suffuse, enrich, and enliven it, with a new understanding of our common humanity, implicit in Quantum Physics, which can be brought to fruition and the attention of the general populace by the cooperative efforts of both humanists and scientists, understanding now the seriousness, necessity, and urgency of resolving the conflict between the “two cultures.”

In The Transformation George Leonard has a very choice quotation from the astronaut Neil Armstrong, from a dinner party conversation his daughter had had once with the first man to walk on the moon, looking back at Mother Earth, words I have remembered and reflected on for decades and try to honor in my epic, like a story around a campfire:

“I want to tell you one thing. When I first looked back and saw the earth there in space, something happened to me.” And then, in a lower more intense voice, “I’ll never be the same.”

Such experiences of “I’ll never be the same” constitute the bedrock of what it means to be human, life after life, exploring it, widening the individual’s consciousness and deepening the possibilities of our own self-understanding as a species on this planet, suggesting who we are and ways to save ourselves during this time of ongoing global crisis and transformation.

Frederick Glaysher

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