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Upcoming events (5)
As part of a new series on St. Augustine and Postmodern thought, we are going to read an essay by Margaret Ferguson "St. Augustine's Region of Unlikeness: The Crossing of Exile and Language." Unlike Thomas Aquinas who has often been dismissed by postmodern thinkers as perhaps too rigid and out of step with of our contemporary dilemmas, Augustine has remained at the heart of some of the most exciting debates of the recent decades - particularly as regards his conceptions of language and time.
The Ferguson essay we are reading for this discussion analyzes the intersectionality (+ sources) of the structuralist and post-structuralist linguistic theory with / in the classical rhetorical theory and, of course, Augustine's philosophy of language and the metaphysical / spiritual implications of an idea of exile - one of the key notions of Judeo-Christian legacy. As we know, the idea of pilgrimage, of traveling back home, of life as displacement, and knowledge as lack of the fullness of truth are also pervasive in classical philosophy and literature (just think of Dante). It seems that until even now, we are not quite where we would like to be. Where does this drama of dissatisfaction and dislocation originate? Are we neurotic or plain wrong on alienation?
Well, Ferguson is particularly keen on looking to Augustine to better situate Derrida's (and postmodern) critical evaluation of the mimetic theory of language and of our human dilemmas, because it is "Augustine's analysis of language as a sequence of parts that is in many ways a forerunner of Derrida's discussion of language as a 'play of differences' that necessarily ruptures any concept of truth as totality." Ferguson does not stop there but continues to show how Augustine can relinquish language rather than God. Hence, she also elucidates a really valuable and important difference between the linguistic and the theological methodologies. A difference that is the mother of all the other differences, as we might consider.
Link to text:
This series of meetups will consist of a live reading and meditation of Pascals unpublished but highly influential work Pensées(thoughts).
The Pensées consist of collected philosophical fragments in which Pascal explores that theological, metaphysical, social and psychological concerns.
We will read each fragment to discuss and mediate upon it. Fragments range from a single phrase to entire pages.
Link to the text. coming soon
"HERETICS!!!!!" So says Irenaeus of Lyon, an early Bishop of the fledgling Christ Church, in 'Against Heresies.' But what is a heresy?
The texts Irenaeus was referring to were part of a corpus known as Gnosticism. For many centuries these texts were known only through the words of the early Church fathers. With this, the ability to have a clear picture of what the world looked like in the wake of Christ was impossible. These thoughts, driven underground, emerged in 1945, in the form of a collection of papyri codices, that became known to the world as the Nag Hammadi Scriptures. And as might be expected, they present a drastically, even wildly different image of Christ and the thoughts of those early years.
Can you imagine it? Women who aren't whores or mothers! Who string together more than two lines!?!?!? Peter's a douchebag! Judas is Jesus' brother?!?!?! Oh, and also, Judas didn't betray Christ at all! No wonder they were buried in the sand - if such worldviews had been adopted, one wonders what impact they would have had on the shape of the society to come.
Let us then gather together, as heretics, or curious Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, Hindus, Jews, Kabbalists, Occultists, to read some of these texts and discuss them over Zoom.
This is the text we will be using: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0061626007/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Here is a pdf version:
Meetup groups tend to be a hit or miss, as far as participation goes. I've compiled some thoughts for you to consider before attending this Meetup.
1. Respect one another. We are not here to undermine a reading or lambast another person's worldview. All are welcome.
2. Present your thoughts clearly and give as much textual support as you can, from the text we are reading. Yes, this means Aristotle and Plato or Heidegger or whoever have no reason to come up. If you just cannot contain your thought, put it on the chat on the meetup page.
3. Participate. We are not gathering to hear 1, 2, or 3 people's interpretations of the text. We are gathering to discuss the text as a group, with all of our different perspectives on the table.
4. Share the air-time. Don't talk too much. No speeches.
5. Be present in the conversation. The chat feature will be turned off.
6. Speak to what has been put on the table. If everyone is discussing "presence", don't derail the conversation by bringing up something from elsewhere.
7. Please don't interrupt. Civility is a must.
8. Avoid sharing personal anecdotes. Discussing any of these fragments could fill a seminar, we only have 90 minutes, let's stay on task.
9. Please read. In case it wasn't obvious before, reading is mandatory, hard to have a conversation if you haven't read.
If I haven't managed to annoy or turn you off with all these rules, then please join me over Zoom to discuss these "heretical" books!
We are going to pick up with Canto 23 and complete the Inferno. Illustration courtesy of Salvador Dali.
Please mark sections you would like to read for the group and discuss with others. Bring questions about history, politics, philosophy, religion, art etc. but most of all bring your own aesthetic and intellectual responses to the text.
The meetup is two hours but I don't mind staying longer if we find ourselves in fruitful conversation.
Dante's Divine Comedy was famously written while the beloved poet was struggling with hardships and in exile from Florence for holding unpopular political opinions.
September 13-14, 2021 marks the 700th anniversary of Dante's death (or passing into Paradiso) and we are commemorating this occasion with the full reading of the Commedia.
The poem relates the adventures of Dante as he travels through the realms of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. Allegorically, the work is also meant to represent soul's journey towards the Divine according to Christian interpretation.
The poem is a veritable compendium of allusions / references to Medieval arts & letters, ancient philosophy and literature, theology, politics, warfare. It also, features an array of real characters - from the very famous historical figures that Dante wished he knew in person down to his contemporaries: both friends and frenemies. (Dante's scholars likes to say that everyone who is anyone in Alighieri's's time is represented in that poem).
The entire work is composed in 14,233 verses, it took Dante about 12 years to complete, and is one of the most beautifully composed and complex poems in world literature.
For the first meeting please read the Inferno (Hell). We will devote 3 meetings to the Inferno, live reading some of the passages. Altogether there will be 9 monthly meetings for the Divine Comedy culminating with the final vision of paradise in September 2021.
We recommend the Mandelbaum translation (at the Amazon link), but you may use any of the available translations you prefer. The entire work is also available online at no cost.
Link to free text online:
Link to purchase
Zoom link will be posted afternoon of the event.