The “Radical Ritual” Series

In 2017, Burning Man’s theme was “Radical Ritual,” and the Burning Man Philosophical Center project produced a series of essays and interviews exploring the place of ritual in modern society. Here’s a section from Larry Harvey’s introductory essay: Is Burning Man a Religion? “The practical needs and experiences of religion seem to me sufficiently met … Read moreThe “Radical Ritual” Series

“One life: imagining a radical acceptance of death”

My new article for OnlySky explores the philosophy of radical death acceptance via the nontheistic religion of Cavesword imagined in Gore Vidal’s 1954 novel Messiah, tracing the concept back to the garden-school of Epicurus and then to the bohemian counter-culture surrounding the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: The humanist point of view is centered on the … Read more“One life: imagining a radical acceptance of death”

“Where is the Duende?”

Where is the duende? Through the empty archway a wind of the spirit enters, blowing insistently over the heads of the dead, in search of new landscapes and unknown accents: a wind with the odour of a child’s saliva, crushed grass, and medusa’s veil, announcing the endless baptism of freshly created things. – Federico Garcia … Read more“Where is the Duende?”

“Start Your Own Religion” (Timothy Leary, 1967)

An excerpt from this classic of the ’60s counterculture: How to Start Your Own Religion First, decide with whom you will make the voyage of discovery. If you have a family, certainly you will include them. If you have close friends, you will certainly want to include them. The question, with whom do I league … Read more“Start Your Own Religion” (Timothy Leary, 1967)

A Pictorial Memoir of the Pixie Land Fairy Castle

I recently came across the Pixie Land Fairy Castle on an evening walk along the Ronan Park River Trail. (If he stays still, I might not spot him …) The Castle featured colorful flags, judiciously-placed pinecones, an array of painted stones and several fairies. Sadly, when I visited the spot last night, the Pixie Land … Read moreA Pictorial Memoir of the Pixie Land Fairy Castle

Imaginology

Professor Stephen Asma writes for Aeon on the potentials of a science of the imagination: Philosophers like Ernst Cassirer and psychologists like Jung focused on the ritual or visual symbol (rather than literal language) as a way of enacting meaning. Images, objects and rituals of mythopoetic cognition are imperative rather than indicative. If we’re immersed, … Read moreImaginology

“Oscar Wilde’s ‘Confraternity of the Faithless'”

My new article for OnlySky Media, Oscar Wilde’s ‘Confraternity of the Faithless’ discusses Wilde’s notion of “agnostic ritual” and its modern interpretation via the Oscar Wilde Temple art installation/secular ritual space: Inspired by the Aesthetic Movement of the late 19th century and subverting traditional Catholic iconography, the Temple evokes a kind of alternative reality in … Read more“Oscar Wilde’s ‘Confraternity of the Faithless’”

The Art of Ritual: Changing Ways of Life and Death (April/May 2022)

The next rendition of my Art of Ritual course for the Morbid Academy (the online teaching branch of the popular Morbid Anatomy enterprise) begins on April 20th: The intangible culture of death ceremony became increasingly bureaucratized throughout the Industrial Age, as hospitals, businesses, religious institutions and civic authorities overtook what had previously been intimate, participatory … Read moreThe Art of Ritual: Changing Ways of Life and Death (April/May 2022)