Romanticism and Buddhism

This volume explores intersections between Western thinking and Eastern religion. Each essay re-examines Romantic-era work in light of the "guides and basic principles" of Buddhist thought. Edited and introduction by Mark Lussier, essays by Louise Economides, Timothy Morton, John Rudy, Dennis McCort, and a poem by Norman Dubie.

Shelley's Golden Wind: Zen Harmonics in A Defence of Poetry and "Ode to the West Wind"

Early in his Defence of Poetry, Shelley undertakes to define art in relation to a "principle" of "harmony" that "acts otherwise than in the lyre," the Aeolian image he deploys to explicate his thesis that poetry is "the expression of the Imagination" and that it is "connate with the origin of man." This principle of harmony undermines all notions of perspective in art, all presumptions of there being anything like a separate poetic self or a separate cosmic force creative in itself and inaugural of human productivity. The aesthetic base of this harmony, if it can be said to have a base at all, is meditative unfolding rather than hermeneutic perception. Art for Shelley is a journey from selfhood (a relational mode of subject-object dissociation) to full personhood (an opening process aligned with interdependent origination). The method of this journey is not self-affirmation or self-projection, as the term "expression of the Imagination" may imply, but self-emptying exposure to a prior Buddhistic oneness with all beings, an "origin" dislocated in time and space yet forever emergent in the moment and accessible through poetry as a mode of spiritual practice. This article explores the theoretical features, the practical functions, and the critical implications of this "origin" through a Zen Buddhist reading of A Defence of Poetry and "Ode to the West Wind."
February 2007

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Hegel on Buddhism

Hegel derived his understanding of Buddhism from a particular sect of Tibetan Buddhism which emphasizes the notion of emptiness. This sect had recently gained political power in Tibet to the exclusion of other legitimate views of the Dharma. This essay demonstrates the signficance of Hegel's misprision of Buddhism for his thought and for Western philosophy in general. In particular, Hegel radically misreads Buddhist meditation as an immersion in "self" ("Insichsein"), and construes Buddhism as a dangerous feminine principle, either too sexual or strangely asexual or autoerotic (as the current Pope has also stated). Using a combination of Buddhist scholarship and philosophy and deconstruction (ways of analyzing that go together quite well), I discover a fatal and phobic fascination with Buddhism in Hegel's thought, a fascination which leads him to develop the idea of "nothingness." "Nothingness" becomes an evocative term which Western philosphy after Hegel will try to include, exclude and police in numerous ways. Most recently, the systematic and shocking (deliberate?) misunderstandings of Buddhism by Slavoj Zizek have been based on this idea of nothingness. "Hegel on Buddhism" shows how this idea is nothing more than a paper tiger, a construct which tells us more about Western philosophy than it does about Buddhism.
February 2007

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Kafka and the Coincidence of Opposites

This study traces the age-old mystical idea of the coincidence of opposites through Kafka's short fiction as well as through his letters and diaries. Its aim is to demonstrate convincingly that Kafka was first and foremost a spiritual writer who composed innumerable variations on the paradox of the One and/in the many in order to spark in his reader insight into the mystery of Being. Along the way, I allude occasionally to the kindred paradoxical wisdom and dark humor of Zen to illuminate Kafka's parables. All in all, the essay constitutes a kind of cautionary argument against current cultural-constructivist interpretations that mean to undermine the view of Kafka's literary sensibility as essentially spiritual.
February 2007

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Lussier, "Enlightenment East and West: An Introduction to Romanticism and Buddhism"

Rather than summarizing the essays appearing in this special issue of Romantic Circles Praxis, this introductory essay provides a historical context for the emergence of what is now termed 'Buddhism' into European consciousness during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This essay appears in _Romanticism and Buddhism_, a volume of _Romantic Circles Praxis Series_, prepared exclusively for Romantic Circles (http://www.rc.umd.edu/), University of Maryland.
February 2007

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Romanticism and Buddhism

This volume explores intersections between Western thinking and Eastern religion. Each essay re-examines Romantic-era work in light of the "guides and basic principles" of Buddhist thought. Edited and introduction by Mark Lussier, essays by Louise Economides, Timothy Morton, John Rudy, Dennis McCort, and a poem by Norman Dubie.

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February, 2007

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Blake, Heidegger, Buddhism, and Deep Ecology: A Fourfold Perspective on Humanity's Relationship to Nature

This article engages with debates regarding Deep Ecology, especially the charge that this branch of environmental philosophy constitutes a dangerously Romantic form of eco-fascism. This study makes a case for the necessity of Deep Ecology's challenge to anthropocentric humanism, while acknowledging the risks of this enterprise from an historical vantage point. Parallels between Deep Ecology and Buddhism are examined in order to illuminate non-occidental sources of thought which influence the DEA (Deep Ecological Approach). Finally, Deep Ecology's endebtedness to Romanticism—specifically to William Blake and Martin Heidegger's phenomenology of poiesis—is also acknowledged, but in a manner that resists a reductive interpretation of what is at stake in these discourses.
February 2007

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