Thursday, September 27, 2007

Traditionalism and globalization

I ended an article published in 2003 "Vestlig sufisme og traditionalisme,"* by saying that "Traditionalism seems to benefit from globalization." A correspondent in Georgia wrote to question this, arguing that since globalization was the negation of tradition, this could not be the case. An interesting discussion followed.
  • What I mean by Traditionalism is acceptance of the main ideas found in the work of Guénon and others, i.e. the attempt to safeguard or recover a certain conception of tradition. What my correspondent meant by traditionalism was the success of such an attempt, or of a similar attempt.

  • What I meant by globalization was the changes that have happened so far. What my correspondent meant was something like an attempt to adjust the entire globe to current mainstream American norms.

Conclusion: indeed, the success of a project to adjust the globe to American norms would certainly mean the extinction of local traditions, and the defeat of Traditionalism. However, in the absence of its complete success, the perception of such a project--whether it really exists or not--engenders resistance to it, and one form that resistance can take is Traditionalism.

It seems to me that one reason for enthusiasm for Traditionalism in countries such as Georgia (and--more frequently--Russia) is precisely this: perception of a threatening project of globalization, a perception that is strengthened by the changes that have already taken place.

* In Den gamle nyreligiøsitet, Vestens glemte kulturarv, ed. Mette Buchardt and Pia Böwadt (Copenhagen: Anis, 2003), pp. 139-51. No, they don't generally read Danish in Georgia, but there is an English translation of the article.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Traditionalism fading somewhat from the Boutchichiyya

A correspondent has brought me up to date on the Boutchichiyya in France.

The Boutchichiyya is the Moroccan tariqa that is not Traditionalist, but includes among its followers many former and/or semi-Traditionalists, especially in France.

Its most notable semi-Traditionalist member is Professor Faouzi Skali, the creator of the Fes Festival of world sacred music and the author of several books, most notably La voie soufie. Skali is the tariqa's representative in France, but is now less involved, and with this--and as the tariqa is growing--it is becoming somewhat less Traditionalist.

  • The Boutchichiyya now has five groups in Paris and other groups (defined as over four people) in twelve French provincial cities.*

  • Separate groups without Western converts or Traditionalists have come into being. First, in the Parisian suburb of Argenteuil, is a group based around shaykh Hamza’s grandson, Mounir al-Boutchich, who lives there. Then there are non-Western groups alongside the Western groups in Avignon and Marseilles. There is also a purely non-Western group in Vauvert (near Nîmes).

  • Although there are still plenty of Traditionalists, often former Freemasons, in the Western groups, new arrivals are generally moving away from Traditionalist ideas towards the approach of the non-Western groups.

  • Some of Skali's ventures have ceased, including the Rencontres Méditerranéenes sur le Soufisme, the magazine Soufisme d’Orient et d’Occident, and Le Derviche, a tea shop in Marseilles.

  • is still going strong. Check it for news of coming events in France.

* The twelve provincial cities are Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Bayonne, Bordeaux, Lyons, Marseilles, Montpellier, Nantes, Nice, Strasbourg, Toulouse, and Vauvert (near Nîmes).

Change of name and change of address

The Thomas Merton Foundation, which I recommended for further information on Thomas Merton (see chapter 8 of Against the Modern World) has changed its name to The Merton Institute for Contemplative Living.

The new address of their website is

Traditionalism in Turkey

A colleague tells me that Guénon is read with approval by many Nurcus--the followers of Said Nursi. A good fit, I think.

The same colleague also questions my view, expressed in Against the Modern World, that Traditionalism in Turkey is not political. On the contrary, he argues, it has major political implications as a voice against Western culture. This must be right--this is the role that everyone is agreed Traditionalism played in Iran before the revolution, so it could hardly not be the case in Turkey too.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Eurasia on RU Tube!

Alexander Dugin's associates have once again shown their considerable media talents. A number of excellent video clips are available on Ru Tube (not to be confused with YouTube!). Excellent photography, and some very interesting music. A few clashes with the police, some speeches by Dugin, outings in the woods... essential viewing, actually. Try the classic style, and the postmodern style. Also visit Eurasia TV.

Italian scholar visits Guénon's tomb

Another pilgrimage to Guénon's tomb... this time, by Massimo Introvigne (see photo), the director of CESNUR, the Center for Studies on New Religions, one of the leading bodies in the field.

In his account of his visit (in French), Intovigne gives a mobile phone number for those looking for the tomb (+ 20 12 375 6109). But since phone numbers in Egypt change quite frequently, if this doesn't work, see an earlier post on the subject here.

The account also has some good photos.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Opportunity in Amsterdam

There's a "PhD position" going in Western Esotericism at the Center for History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam. This sort of position is the specialty of certain European countries--instead of the student paying the university to do a PhD, the university pays the student!

Since "the research proposal will focus on a relevant topic in the period from the Enlightenment (18th century) to the present," something related to Traditionalism might be acceptable. Potential applicants see the job ad.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

New peer-reviewed Traditionalist journal

Dr Timothy Scott of La Trobe University (Bendigo, Australia) has just announced the creation of a "a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal in the field of Traditional Philosophy and Religious Studies," called The Eye of the Heart.

The announcement of this journal was carried by the ListServ of the Section for the study of Islam of the American Academy of Religion--the #1 body for academics teaching about Islam in US universities, to which many non-American academics also belong.

It's interesting to see further signs of Traditionalist activity in Australia, but it's especially interesting that the journal is peer-reviewed. There are two points about peer-review. One is that it improves the quality of articles. The other is that it gives respectability in university circles. Academics have to report their activities to university administrators, and in this context a peer-reviewed article counts for a lot more than one that is not peer-reviewed. The journal, then, is both a sign of Traditionalism gaining (or attempting to gain) respectability in mainstream academic life, and of Traditionalism "coming out." For years, many academics have been in some sense Traditionalists, but have usually kept this to themselves.

However, the editors have given themselves a let-out. According to the Call for Articles, "articles that do not fit the academic criteria for peer-review but are deemed of value will be published under a non peer-reviewed category."