This dialogue took place in October 2013 at Esalen in Big Sur, CA.
Disenchantment, Misenchantment, and Re-Enchantment: A Dialogue with Richard Tarnas
22 responses to “Disenchantment, Misenchantment, and Re-Enchantment: A Dialogue with Richard Tarnas”
This was excellent, thanks a lot for posting. Very inspiring discussion. The term ‘misenchantment’ in particular struck me as an important tool to think about modern ways of searching for ‘meaning’. I was reminded of the David Foster Wallace passage where he wrote that, “There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.”
I also agree with the person who objected to the prefix in ‘re-enchantment’ since it suggests a return, a kind of conservatism people tend to shy away from. If only for that reason, I find Barfield’s terminology of Original-Final Participation much more compelling. Thanks again.
Thank you both for allowing me to enter into the field of thought and reflection that you teach/lstudy, and where I am trying to move as I give an intensive course on the Bhagavad-Gita in Berkeley (GTU). As I listened, I thought of music and of the intelligences beyond and, dare I say, above the human. Part of the disaster of the Enlightenment was the near-total loss of a cosmic sense that removed the human from the chorus of voices and minds, singing telepathically, as it were; our singing minds, bereft of this counterpoint, were reduced to tunes accompanied by static, vertical chords, marching or waltzing in the empire of King Tonic and Queen Dominant. Thank the Ineffable for Debussy and Schoenberg, one with the whole-tone scale and the other with the twelve-tone row, and the liberating dissonance that re-enchants us in Stravinsky, Bartok, Messiaen, and Gubaidulina. Forgive me for insisting that we can and must fugue with other, superior minds, without demanding that they land on the White House lawn. They have already landed in our minds.
What if we take a Nietzschean perspective and posit the search for external meaning as a symptom of the decadent physiology of the organism? An organism grown with too many choices made for it, too many answers provided. A butterfly with stunted wings because a Good Samaritan came along and helped it break through the cocoon?
Sometimes I wonder if the drive to re-access the meaning in the universe overlooks the possibility that that meaning is always a function of the internal state of the organism. Think of how silly the question of meaning would be during/after a vigorous hike, competitive sports event, freestyle writing, etc.
You said it yourself, “…is no less a psychological projection than the ancient/medieval enchanted cosmos.”
Perhaps meaning is a physiological state, and not an external content to be accessed.
I’m rather late for this discussion…and have enjoyed reading many of the postings.
The experience of synchronicity seems to bridge the ‘inner/outer’ chasm, as a kind of Yin/Yang pointer on our life’s journey.
The British sociologist Richard Jenkins has introduced the terms ‘substantial’ and ‘transient’ as useful terms for describing types of (re)enchantments. It seems common for those with substantial enchantments, such as religious or political commitments, to decry those with transient enchantments, such as sex, drugs and rock & roll (etc. There are thousands of such transient enchantments). The connection between enchantment and (hierarchical) state structure, and what Jung called “the collective unconscious” seems obvious.
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