Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Sufism in the Arts-without Traditionalism!

Sufism has again made a high-profile appearance in the mainstream Western arts, following on Sir John Tavener's 2004 The Veil of the Temple. Tavener is a Traditionalist, but this time there is no discernable Traditionalist input. Director Peter Brook, famous for Marat/Sade, is considered something of a disciple of Gurdjieff, not of Guénon.

Brook put on his play Tierno Bokar in New York in 2005. Tierno (or Cerno) Bokar (c.1883-1940) was a Tijani shaykh in Mali, and has been the subject of both a literary/documentary biograhy (Amadou Hampaté Bâ, Vie et enseignement de Tierno Bokar: le sage de Bandiagara, Paris: Seuil, 1980) and a scholarly work (Louis Brenner, West African Sufi: The Religious Heritage and Spiritual Search of Cerno Bokar Saalif Taal, London: C. Hurst, 1984; an extract from Brenner's book is available here).

Brook describes his play as bieng about a theme that is much more modern than Traditionalist: "the question that concerns us all—the power of violence and the true nature of a tolerance that is more powerful still" (Brook's comment).

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Guénon on Wikipedia

Wikipedia seems now to have become the world’s most-used source of information,(1) so it is interesting to note that René Guénon currently features in some 400 Wikipedia articles in 21 different languages.

Predictably, it is the English verison of Wikipedia (which is the largest) that has most references to Guénon. The French and Turkish versions also refer to him a lot. With the exception of Japanese, every major version of Wikipedia(2) mentions him at least once, and usually several times.

Guénon also features in 8 of the smaller Wikipedias, especially Croatian, Hungarian, Romanian, and Russian.(3) I have not been able to find entries for him, however, in Arabic or Chinese, or in a number of other minor versions of Wikipedia.(4) Guénon does appear, however, in three very small versions of Wikipedia: those in Sicilian, Uzbek, and Vietnamese. Guénon’s popularity in Sicily has already been noted. The Uzbek and Vietnamese mentions remain to be explained.

(1) now ranks Wikipedia 16th in its traffic rankings. Wikipedia probably actually ranks higher, since Alexa admits to over-counting Chinese sites. Excluding Chinese sites, Wikipedia ranks 9th. All the eight more popular sites are search engines, networking sites (MySpace) technical sites belonging to Microsoft, or sales sites (Ebay and Amazon).

(2) In addition to English and French, these are: Dutch, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish.

(3) The others are: Greek, Estonian, Malay, and Norwegian.

(4) Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Hebrew, Icelandic, Indonesian, Korean, Lithuanian, Persian, Slovak, Slovenian, Serbian, Thai, and Ukrainian. Nor does Guénon feature in Basque, Catalan, Galician, Esperanto, or Neapolitan.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

ESSWE: new learned society

Those in or near Europe doing research on Traditionalism may be interested by the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE). The ESSWE website lists scholars, books and so on in 28 categories, and one of these is "Traditionalism" (along with, for example, "Neoplatonism").

ESSWE's inaugural conference will be in Germany in July 2007, under the title "Constructing Tradition: Means and Myths of Transmission in Western Esotericism." There may be some papers on Traditionalism.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Research announcement: US perennialism

Setareh Houman writes from Tehran, Iran:

I am currently working on my thesis, writing a dissertation under the direction of Dr. Antoine Faivre of the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Paris, France).

The topic of my dissertation is perennialism in intellectual circles in the U.S. in the late 20th centruy-early 21st century ("La présence du courant pérennialiste dans les milieux intellectuels aux Etats-Unis dans la seconde moitié du XXe et le début du XXIe siècles").

I have no previous publication on this subject. My previous publications are a book on Nietzsche, and book translations from French to Farsi, e.g. Merleau Ponty Eloge de la philosophie and Sarah Kofman Caméra Obscura de l'Idéologie.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Book announcement

Jean-Pierre Laurant, René Guénon, les enjeux d'une lecture. Paris: Dervy, 2006. 394 pages. 18.00 €. ISBN 2.84454.423.1

Jean-Pierre Laurant is the doyen of French scholars working on Traditionalism, and has just published an important new book on Guénon.

The blurb for this book is
René Guénon, dont la destinée et l'œuvre sont singuliers - intellectuel catholique, il est mort musulman au Caire en 1951 -, s'est insurgé toute sa vie contre l'évolution de la civilisation occidentale. Considérant que celle-ci était pervertie par un mauvais usage de la raison, il a plaidé avec force et conviction pour un retour à la Tradition originelle, telle qu'on peut encore la voir « vivante » dans d'autres civilisations.

Beaucoup de ceux pour qui la lecture de ses œuvres a été un choc décisif ont cherché depuis l'issue dans les voies initiatiques indiquées comme possibles par René Guénon : l'église catholique, la franc-maçonnerie, l'islam soufi ou le bouddhisme. À travers ces itinéraires, celui de Guénon et celui de ses lecteurs-cherchants, est reposée la question essentielle de la place, à l'échelle mondiale, du spirituel dans nos sociétés matérialistes.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

About this blog

After publishing Against the Modern World I started posting occasional addenda to the book.

There are now so many of these that the time has come to embrace one aspect of the modern world: the Blog. So, here it is: a Blog on the Traditionalists, where I will post, from time to time, any news (current or historical) that comes my may that is interesting and relevant, and where others too may post comments and news (which I will moderate).

But as we're rearranging the site, there will be no new posts for a short while.