Theosophical Society of Detroit – Friday, December 7, 2018. 7:00 – 9:00 pm. Q&A. 27745 Woodward Avenue, Berkley, MI 48072.
Frederick Glaysher spoke about the long journey of modernity during the last 130 to 150 years in search of a universal conception of spirituality. Glaysher discusses the book The World’s Parliament of Religions, 1893, and key influential speakers and groups represented at The Parliament in Chicago, including Vivekananda, Brahmo Samaj, the Unitarian Church, and the Theosophical Society, highlighting and surveying Madame Blavatsky’s emphasis on Universal Brotherhood and the study of comparative religion. Further currents include Dara Shikoh, Rammohan Roy, Rabindranath Tagore, Abdul-Baha, Rumi, Kabir, poets and mystics, Emerson. Among other seeking souls touched on, Evelyn Underhill, Arnold Toynbee, Micea Eliade, Joseph Campbell, and Huston Smith.
Somehow I missed this review online in August, 2016, just stumbling on it now. A pleasure to find… a thoughtful engagement.
“I will definitely be checking out more of his work in the future (Parliament of Poets looks good). This book deals with many of the horrors and terrors of the long 20th century, and in many ways chastises the poets of this period for not finding an effective way to confront that horror.”
“…this book is quite good. It is well laid out, and does what so few collection of poems do– that is build an argument or overall claim. There are short pieces that deal with the visceral horrors of conflict, relying on powerful imagery, and then longer drawn out philosophical pieces that culminate what Glaysher has been saying.”
“The result is a collection that makes shorter, powerful jabs, followed by a prolonged punch. The reader is therefore left with the power of the poetry as the poems build on each other in rapid succession. Well written, thought out, and containing a clear purpose, I highly recommend Into the Ruins and look forward to reading Glaysher’s other works.” —Wes Bishop, Goodreads
For a selection of poems from Into the Ruins, see the first half of my poetry reading at Hannan Cafe, November 3, 2015.
At the Birmingham Unitarian Church, March 31, 2014, I read another poem from Into the Ruins, “The Crowned Maitreya,” the Buddha of the Future, Japan’s national treasure, housed in Kyoto at Koryu-ji Temple.
Envisions 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.”
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 discusses the book The World’s Parliament of Religions, 1893, and key influential speakers and groups represented at The Parliament in Chicago, including Vivekananda, Brahmo Samaj, the Unitarian Church, and the Theosophical Society. Continue reading →
Epic Poetry Reading, Frederick Glaysher, Farmhouse Frederick Glaysher reading two excerpts from The Parliament of Poets: An Epic Poem, at The Farmhouse, Village of Franklin, Michigan. March 22, 2018. Hosted and Introduced by the poet Diane DeCillis. On the moon, … Continue reading →
We human beings on this planet need a new vision and understanding of life, to help bring us together, to see and feel and understand our common humanity, to step back from the brink of self-destruction. From the Moon, together, we can see it, a new global, universal vision of life. Continue reading →