Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Deep background, especially US

A new book, Patrick Bowen's A History of Conversion to Islam in the United States: White American Converts before 1975 (Brill, 2015), does not deal directly with Traditionalism (though Guénon is mentioned) but does deal with various topics that are part of the background to Traditionalism, and part of the background to Sufism and Traditionalism in the United States. There's lots on the Theosophical Society, on Martinism, on early neo-Sufis, universalism (if not exactly perennialism) and on changes in attitudes to religion in the nineteenth century. A good book, recommended.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Traditionalism in 1930s Thailand

Just discovered: a small Traditionalist group in 1930s Thailand, described by Arthur Osborne in My Life and Quest (2001), available online.

Osborne was introduced to the works of Guénon by Martin Lings, who he knew in Gdynia, Poland before the Second World War. Lings gave him two books, one by Guénon and one by Gurdjieff's interpreter P. D. Ouspensky. It is interesting that Lings was recommending Ouspensky at that point.

Guénon's book, the Introduction générale à l'étude des doctrines hindoues had a great impact on Osborne, and Ouspensky did not. When he moved from Poland to Bangkok, Thailand, Osborne joined a small group of Traditionalists there, evidently all Europeans. He also became Muslim, joined an Indian dhikr group in Bangkok, and gave bayat to an unidentified shaykh in India in 1939, along with a number of other Bangkok Traditionalists .

It is not clear what happened to the Bangkok group. Osborne's final destination lay outside it.  As the Second World War started and Thailand was threatened by the Japanese, his wife and daughter took refuge in India, where his wife was given "silent initiation" by the Hindu guru Ramana Maharshi, of whom Guénon did not approve. Osborne spent much of the war in an internment camp in Thailand, where he intended to devote himself to "prayer, meditation, incantations and reading the Arabic Quran," but as time passed found himself returning to "profane" life. After the war, he re-joined his family in India, and took Ramana Maharshi as his guru. He edited The collected works of Sri Ramana Maharshi, first published by Rider in 1959.

My thanks to B. H. for bringing Osborne's book to my attention.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Major new French collection on Guénon

Just out: a new French collection edited by Philippe Faure, René Guénon. L'appel de la sagesse primordiale (Paris: Le Cerf, 34 €, ISBN 9782204098892). That is, René Guénon: The Call of Primordial Wisdom.

This collection brings together all the leading French specialists on Guénon, generally academics, some engaged and some less engaged. It promises to be a major work.

The table of contents, in translation, is:
  • Xavier Accart, "The reception of the work of René Guénon by the literary and intellectual circles of his time."
  •  Patrick Laude, "Traditional Sources and contemporary contexts."
  •  Jean-Pierre Laurant, "The Guénon/Coomaraswamy correspondence or reciprocal exchange." 
  • Matthias Korger, "The picture of René Guénon in the writings of Leopold Ziegler and André Préau."
  • Jean Moncelon, "René Guénon and Louis Massignon: The calls of the Orient." 
  • Jean-Louis Gabin, "René Guénon and Alain Daniélou: A witness and his parody."
  • Jean-Marc Vivenza, "René Guénon and metaphysical knowledge."
  • Jean Borella, "René Guénon and philosophical 'error.'"
  • Philippe Faure, "René Guénon and the Bible: The way of symbols."
  • Paul B. Fenton, "René Guénon and Judaism."
  • Jean-Pierre Brach, "Christianity and 'primordial tradition' in the articles of René Guénon for the Catholic magazine Regnabit."
  • Paolo Urizzi, "The presence of Sufism in the work of René Guénon."
  • Patrick Ringgenberg, "Primordial tradition and universalism according to Frithjof Schuon and perennialism."
  • Jérôme Rousse-Lacordaire, "Traditional thought and Christian theology of religions." 
  • Luc Nefontaine, "Hate and/or veneration? Ambivalence of the image of René Guénon in Freemasonry today." 
  • Seyyed Hossein Nasr, "The influence of René Guénon in the Islamic world."
  • Bruno Pinchard, "The spatial symbolism of René Guénon and its mathematics." 
  • Éric Phalippou, "Ethnology from within: A 'semi-secular' discipline?"
  • JacquesViret, "Music and Tradition: The traditional perspective in musicology and ethnomusicology."

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Traditionalists blog passes 250,000 page views

After almost nine years of existence, this blog has  passed 250,000 page views. It was started in June 2006 to make available additions to my book Against the Modern World, and has since become a general source of information on the topic of Tradiitonalism and the Traditionalists. This topic, as the number of page views shows, is one that many people find of interest.

The stats report that 45% of these 250,000 page views were by users in the US, UK and Canada, mostly in the US, as the map indicates. This is not surprising for an English-language blog.

The next seven countries, in order, have been France, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Brazil, Ukraine, and Italy. It is hardly surprising to find France and Italy on the list, given the national origins of René Guénon and Julius Evola, or to find Russia and Ukraine on it, given the prominence there of Traditionalism and of Alexander Dugin. The prominence of Germany and Sweden is unexpected, however, as is the prominence of Brazil. The current state of Traditionalism in those countries evidently deserves investigation.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Dugin and CEDADE

A Yale student, Emily Efland, is researching the relationship between Aleksandr Dugin and the Spanish group CEDADE (Círculo Español de Amigos de Europa) in the 1990s. Efland writes:
In the mid-1980s a group formed within CEDADE that devoted itself to esoteric Hitlerism and the study of the works of Miguel Serrano, whose works (and other esoteric Hitlerist texts) were published in the CEDADE-affiliated journal Excalibur. Amid internal factionalism in the late 1980s, members of this group left CEDADE to form their own more esoteric organization, which they called the Thule Group. In the beginning of the 1990s the Thule Group began publishing a journal entitled Hiperbórea. Dugin, presumably through his travels to Spain in the early 1990s, met members of the Thule Group and in 1991 published the Russian version of volume 1 of Hiperbórea, which he entitled Giperborea. I am wondering which members of the Thule Group Dugin was in contact with. I am also interested in receiving any information anyone might have on who was involved in the Thule Group, when it started, what its publications were and where I could find them, and any other information that exists on this faction. I can be reached at