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Archive for February 17th, 2013

Bérubé, Plotinus, and William Shakespeare

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

[ by Charles Camerontotus mundus agit histrionem ]
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Or as Shakespeare‘s Melancholy Jacques famously observed in As You Like It: All the world’s a stage…

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On the off-chance that you’ll take a few minutes to read it once again, profound beauty being a river into which we cannot dip too often, I’ll give you the whole speech:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

**

Sources:

Bérubé, A Theory of Theory of Mind
Plotinus, Third Ennead, ii, 15
Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II Scene vii.

The Buddha, the Barbie, and Walter Benjamin

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — iconoclasm, Iranian style ]
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From AP today:

Iran confiscates Buddha statues from shops.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – An Iranian newspaper is reporting that government authorities are confiscating Buddha statues from shops in Tehran to stop the promotion of Buddhism in the country.

Sunday’s report by the independent Arman daily quotes Saeed Jaberi Ansari, an official for the protection of Iran’s cultural heritage, as saying that authorities will not permit a specific belief to be promoted through such statues.

Ansari called the Buddha statues symbols of “cultural invasion.”

He did not elaborate on how many have been confiscated so far, but said more would be seized from shops.

Iran has long fought against items, such as Barbie dolls and Simpsons cartoon characters, to defuse Western influence, but this appears to be the first time that Iranian authorities are showing an opposition to symbols from the East.

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Walter Benjamin, very much apropos, in The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction:

The uniqueness of a work of art is inseparable from its being imbedded in the fabric of tradition. This tradition itself is thoroughly alive and extremely changeable. An ancient statue of Venus, for example, stood in a different traditional context with the Greeks, who made it an object of veneration, than with the clerics of the Middle Ages, who viewed it as an ominous idol. Both of them, however, were equally confronted with its uniqueness, that is, its aura. Originally the contextual integration of art in tradition found its expression in the cult. We know that the earliest art works originated in the service of a ritual – first the magical, then the religious kind. It is significant that the existence of the work of art with reference to its aura is never entirely separated from its ritual function. In other words, the unique value of the “authentic” work of art has its basis in ritual, the location of its original use value. This ritualistic basis, however remote, is still recognizable as secularized ritual even in the most profane forms of the cult of beauty. The secular cult of beauty, developed during the Renaissance and prevailing for three centuries, clearly showed that ritualistic basis in its decline and the first deep crisis which befell it.

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Sources:

Barbie Sitting Acrylic Cut Out
Buddha, seated


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