Postcards from a Twilight Zone

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cakeordeathsite

The Dark Ages Anna Di Mezza-The Dark Ages 2017

Regulars readers will need no introduction to the wonderful Australian artist Anna Di Mezza, whose uncanny and compelling Surrealistic paintings of a retro parallel dimension have featured many times here (Double Take, Questions & Answers with Anna Di Mezza, Evolution and Transience). 2017 has been a busy and productive year for Anna and I am delighted to showcase her latest postcards from a none too distant Twilight Zone.

As well as experimenting with colour reversals of existing paintings (the subject of a future post), Anna has produced a fine batch of new paintings that expand upon recurring motifs and throw her obsessions into sharp relief. The mysterious crystal formation makes a reappearance in both The Dark Ages, where immaculately coiffed (does anyone do 60’s hairstyles as well as Ms Di Mezza?) ladies participate in an inexplicable sĂ©ance around


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Jungian Archetype of the wolf – gods and godnesses, warriors and mothers, demons and outlaws, evil and uebermensch

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stOttilien

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In a few weeks, there is Whitsun, and I will make one of my occasional trips to the monastery. The rock monastery St. George is a development center of the Benedictine  order in the Austrian Inn valley. From the monastery to the St. George mountain (Karwendel) on foot takes approximately one  hour. The religious exercise will be lead by a Benedictine monk, who happens to have formal psychoanalytic credentials and introduced the theme “The archetype of the wolf” for what to my understanding is a spiritual hiking weekend.

This article is a preparation to the theme and will be updated afterwards. Initially I thought, that the wolf is a somewhat boring theme, but it became clear during my research, that in mythology, religion, in legends and fairy tales the wolf has played an outstanding ambiguous, dualist and multidimensional role. The wolf archetype is so  central,  that how the wolf is viewed, indicates the mindset of the human,  secular or


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Why religion is not going away and science will not destroy it

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From: https://aeon.co/

It’s a very interesting research about a “still”  big question in our time!

Peter Harrison

is an Australian Laureate Fellow and director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Queensland. His most recent book is The Territories of Science and Religion (2015), and his edited collection Narratives of Secularization(2017) will be published later this year.

Edited by Sam Haselby

In 1966, just over 50 years ago, the distinguished Canadian-born anthropologist Anthony Wallace confidently predicted the global demise of religion at the hands of an advancing science: ‘belief in supernatural powers is doomed to die out, all over the world, as a result of the increasing adequacy and diffusion of scientific knowledge’. Wallace’s vision was not exceptional. On the contrary, the modern social sciences, which took shape in 19th-century western Europe, took their own recent historical experience of secularisation as a universal model. An assumption lay at the core of the social sciences, either presuming or sometimes predicting that all cultures would eventually converge on something roughly approximating secular, Western, liberal democracy. Then something closer to the opposite happened.

Not only has secularism failed to continue its steady global march but countries as varied as Iran, India, Israel, Algeria and Turkey have either had their secular governments replaced by religious ones, or have seen the rise of influential religious nationalist movements. Secularisation, as predicted by the social sciences, has failed.

To be sure, this failure is not unqualified. Many Western countries continue to witness a decline in religious belief and practice. The most recent census data released in Australia, for example, shows that 30 percent of the population identifies as having ‘no religion and that this percentage is increasing. International surveys confirm comparatively low levels of religious commitment in western Europe and Australasia. Even the United States, a long-time source of embarrassment for the secularisation thesis, has seen a rise in unbelief. The percentage of atheists in the US now sits at an all-time high (if ‘high’ is the right word) of around 3 percent. Yet, for all that, globally, the total number of people who consider themselves to be religious remains high, and demographic trends suggest that the overall pattern for the immediate future will be one of religious growth. But this isn’t the only failure of the secularisation thesis.

Scientists, intellectuals and social scientists expected that the spread of modern science would drive secularisation – that science would be a secularising force. But that simply hasn’t been the case. If we look at those societies where religion remains vibrant, their key common features are less to do with science, and more to do with feelings of existential security and protection from some of the basic uncertainties of life in the form of public goods. A social safety net might be correlated with scientific advances but only loosely, and again the case of the US is instructive. The US is arguably the most scientifically and technologically advanced society in the world, and yet at the same time the most religious of Western societies. As the British sociologist David Martin concluded in The Future of Christianity (2011): ‘There is no consistent relationship between the degree of scientific advance and a reduced profile of religious influence, belief and practice.’

The story of science and secularisation becomes even more intriguing when we consider those societies that have witnessed significant reactions against secularist agendas. India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru championed secular and scientific ideas and enlisted scientific education in the project of modernisation. Nehru was confident that Hindu visions of a Vedic past and Muslim dreams of an Islamic theocracy would both succumb to the inexorable historical march of secularisation. ‘There is only one-way traffic in Time,’ he declared. But as the subsequent rise of Hindu and Islamic fundamentalism adequately attests, Nehru was wrong. Moreover, the association of science with a secularising agenda has backfired, with science becoming a collateral casualty of resistance to secularism.

Turkey provides an even more revealing case. Like most pioneering nationalists, Mustafa Kemal AtatĂŒrk, the founder of the Turkish republic, was a committed secularist. AtatĂŒrk believed that science was destined to displace religion. In order to make sure that Turkey was on the right side of history, he gave science, in particular, evolutionary biology, a central place in the state education system of the fledgeling Turkish republic. As a result, evolution came to be associated with AtatĂŒrk’s entire political programme, including secularism. Islamist parties in Turkey, seeking to counter the secularist ideals of the nation’s founders, have also attacked the teaching of evolution. For them, evolution is associated with secular materialism. This sentiment culminated in the decision this June to remove the teaching of evolution from the high-school classroom. Again, science has become a victim of guilt by association.

The US represents a different cultural context, where it might seem that the key issue is a conflict between literal readings of Genesis and key features of evolutionary history. But in fact, much of the creationist discourse centres on moral values. In the US case too, we see anti-evolutionism motivated at least in part by the assumption that evolutionary theory is a stalking horse for secular materialism and its attendant moral commitments. As in India and Turkey, secularism is actually hurting science.

In brief, global secularisation is not inevitable and, when it does happen, it is not caused by science. Further, when the attempt is made to use science to advance secularism, the results can damage science. The thesis that ‘science causes secularisation’ simply fails the empirical test and enlisting science as an instrument of secularisation turns out to be a poor strategy. The science and secularism pairing is so awkward that it raises the question: why did anyone think otherwise?

Historically, two related sources advanced the idea that science would displace religion. First, 19th-century progressivist conceptions of history, particularly associated with the French philosopher Auguste Comte, held to a theory of history in which societies pass through three stages – religious, metaphysical and scientific (or ‘positive’). Comte coined the term ‘sociology’ and he wanted to diminish the social influence of religion and replace it with a new science of society. Comte’s influence extended to the ‘young Turks’ and AtatĂŒrk.

The 19th century also witnessed the inception of the ‘conflict model’ of science and religion. This was the view that history can be understood in terms of a ‘conflict between two epochs in the evolution of human thought – the theological and the scientific’. This description comes from Andrew Dickson White’s influential A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896), the title of which nicely encapsulates its author’s general theory. White’s work, as well as John William Draper’s earlier History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science (1874), firmly established the conflict thesis as the default way of thinking about the historical relations between science and religion. Both works were translated into multiple languages. Draper’s History went through more than 50 printings in the US alone, was translated into 20 languages and, notably, became a bestseller in the late Ottoman Empire, where it informed AtatĂŒrk’s understanding that progress meant science superseding religion.

Today, people are less confident that history moves through a series of set stages toward a single destination. Nor, despite its popular persistence, do most historians of science support the idea of an enduring conflict between science and religion. Renowned collisions, such as the Galileo affair, turned on politics and personalities, not just science and religion. Darwin had significant religious supporters and scientific detractors, as well as vice versa. Many other alleged instances of science-religion conflict have now been exposed as pure inventions. In fact, contrary to conflict, the historical norm has more often been one of mutual support between science and religion. In its formative years in the 17th century, modern science relied on religious legitimation. During the 18th and 19th centuries, natural theology helped to popularise science.

The conflict model of science and religion offered a mistaken view of the past and, when combined with expectations of secularisation, led to a flawed vision of the future. Secularisation theory failed at both description and prediction. The real question is why we continue to encounter proponents of science-religion conflict. Many are prominent scientists. It would be superfluous to rehearse Richard Dawkins’s musings on this topic, but he is by no means a solitary voice. Stephen Hawking thinks that ‘science will win because it works’; Sam Harris has declared that ‘science must destroy religion’; Stephen Weinberg thinks that science has weakened religious certitude; Colin Blakemore predicts that science will eventually make religion unnecessary. Historical evidence simply does not support such contentions. Indeed, it suggests that they are misguided.

So why do they persist? The answers are political. Leaving aside any lingering fondness for quaint 19th-century understandings of history, we must look to the fear of Islamic fundamentalism, exasperation with creationism, an aversion to alliances between the religious Right and climate-change denial, and worries about the erosion of scientific authority. While we might be sympathetic to these concerns, there is no disguising the fact that they arise out of an unhelpful intrusion of normative commitments into the discussion. Wishful thinking – hoping that science will vanquish religion – is no substitute for a sober assessment of present realities. Continuing with this advocacy is likely to have an effect opposite to that intended.

Religion is not going away anytime soon, and science will not destroy it. If anything, it is science that is subject to increasing threats to its authority and social legitimacy. Given this, science needs all the friends it can get. Its advocates would be well advised to stop fabricating an enemy out of religion, or insisting that the only path to a secure future lies in a marriage of science and secularism

The Power Of The Witch Archetype

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Where Three Roads Meet...

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 Since the traditions of modern witchcraft came out of the broom closet, witchcraft has undergone a reinvention or a rebirth. Many modern witches shy away from the archetypical image of the witch, with her many symbols like broom, cauldron, pointy hat, black cat, toads and other nightly creatures, the famous familiar spirits, spells, hexes and curses, contact to the spirits of the dead, shape shifting into animals, the knowledge of herbs and poisons, the legendary flying ointment, meetings on crossroads and old cemeteries or the fly through the night on broomsticks or pitchforks.

Many modern witches claim that the stereotypical witch is only fantasy and that in truth witchcraft is and was different than this image.

Witchcraft evolved into a modern religion, which is a good thing. Modern witches gather on the seasonal festivals, celebrate the seasonal changes, belief in and honor the Great Goddess and the Horned God and some


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Most Beautiful|ŰČÛŒŰšŰ§ŰȘŰ±ÛŒÙ†

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A Voice from Iran

Once upon a time, there was a girl who was so beautiful that every single man in the country wished to marry her.

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All of the richest men went to see her in person to ask for her hand in marriage. The beautiful girl always tested the men to see if they really loved her or not.

She constantly rejected them because she believed none of these men loved her truly as none of them passed the test. The men never told others what the test was because they didn’t want the next person to win her.

Constantly, the men didn’t pass the test and had to leave. One day a young man insisted that he was the one and that he would gain her trust.

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He said that he loved her so much and he would easily pass the test. She invited him in her home and asked him


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Alan Watts Explains the Meaning of the Tao, with the Help of the Greatest Nancy Panel Ever Drawn

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Wightlessness

From; http://www.openculture.com/

 

A Nancy panel is an irreducible concept, an atom, and the comic strip is a molecule. – comics theorist Scott McCloud

A little over ten years ago, cartoonist Jim Woodring isolated a single image from Ernie Bushmiller’s long-running and deeply polarizing Nancy comic strip, celebrating it on his blog, the Woodring Monitor, as “the greatest Nancy panel ever drawn.”

What makes this panel the greatest? Woodring declined to elaborate, though his readers eagerly shared theories—and some befuddlement—in the comments section:

Sluggo has reached the perfect state of no-effort, the satori-like denial of the “small mind” and all of the suffering that comes with it.


 it’s the comic equivalent of a koan—something designed to tie our rational mind in knots so that we can glimpse enlightenment.

Sluggo smiles because he knows a secret. He says no because he rejects consensus reality. He floats along because he doesn’t fight life—he sees the maintenance of the harmony and is one with that harmony. He knows all paths lead away from home. Instead, he goes within and knows freedom.

“I am content. I need nothing, I will do nothing, I am fine as I am.”

Another fan, Glyph Jockey’s Lex 10, took it one step further, removing the speech bubble before taking Sluggo on an animated trip through the cosmos, narrated by philosopher Alan Watts:

 In the state of being in accordance with the Tao, there is a certain feeling of weightlessness, parallel to the weightlessness that people feel when they get into outer space or when they go deep into the ocean.

Gabby Pahinui’s “Pu’uanahulu” and Ramayana imagery bestow added hypnotic appeal.

Revisit this strange little-animated gem the next time your head’s about to explode from stress. Don’t question or get too hung up on meanings, just go with the flow, like Sluggo and Watts.

Could other Nancy panels serve as vehicles for Taoist enlightenment? Mayhaps:

Bushmiller’s strong point was never the content of his comic strip’s jokey plots—a friend once described him as ‘a moron on an acid trip.’ In fact, the gags were even simpler than was necessary for a ‘children’s’ strip. That’s because they were just a vehicle for the controlled and brilliant manipulation of repetition and variety that gave the strip its unique visual rhythm and composition. Bushmiller choreographed his familiar formal elements inside the tightest frame of any major strip, and that helped make it the most beautiful, as a whole, of any in the papers.” – Tom Smucker, The Village Voice, 1982

Recently, Bushmiller’s Nancy has been enjoying a renaissance. The strip that many casual readers of the funny pages dismissed as boring or dumb is revered by many celebrated cartoonists, including Bill Griffith, Daniel Clowes, and Art Spiegelman.

This month sees the publication of Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden’s How to Read Nancy, a book-length analysis of one single strip, which also functions as a how-to and history of the comic medium. This hotly anticipated volume has in turn given rise to a lively online How To Read Nancy Reading Group, a hotbed of fan art, altered panels, and Nancy strips from around the world.

Invite your pals over to play comic theorist Scott McCloud’s Dadaist game Five Card Nancy or take the online version for a solo spin.

And for those who require context, here is the original strip from which the floating Sluggo panel is drawn.

Apparently, the key to the Tao is a plastic hammock