Tag Archives: Jason Josephson Storm

We don’t need to “re-enchant” anything. Religion scholar Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm on Against Everyone With Conner Habib 141!

16 Feb

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Friends,
I’ve always hated the term “re-enchantment” because it presupposes that the world lost its enchantment, or that somehow we just have to insert a fairy or into the landscape or talk to trees, or worse yet, see the world in terms of the Neil deGrasse Tyson “wonder of science”: the most banal way of seeing anything. Do that and then – voila! – we have a spiritual world again.But the world doesn’t need to be be re-enchanted or merely populated by astrological symbols in the night sky – instead we need to dissolve the kinds of knowing that obfuscate our understanding of the spiritual nature of existence. We encounter, each day, a tangle of bad notions of perception and concepts which get in the way of, more open, more honest experiences. Materialism is a form of bad enchantment; a kind of hex itself.

On the other hand, the idea that we need to purge spirituality from the left is even worse. Figures viewed as foundational to materialist leftist discourse like Hegel and Adorno are tangled up in hermetic traditions, not to mention even Marx’s works were published by initially by spiritualists.

To talk about all of this, I invited professor, religious studies author, and authorJason Ānanda Josephson Storm onto the show. Jason is the author of three books, including The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences, as well as the forthcoming book on how to theorize differently, Metamodernism: The Future of Theory.This is an intense episode – my favorite kind – because we don’t hold back at all, we just go as deep as we want into religion, occultism, academic dishonesty, and consciousness.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • How did the tarot, astrology, and more show up in the left
  • Why the occult is not fascism and why we shouldn’t condemn Lutherans
  • The new materialists and neither new nor materialists, discuss
  • The desperate need for dewitchers and new theorists
  • The problem with trying to intervene in language
  • The way academics will develop “a whole vast edifice about the enchant(ment of) nature and it ends with ‘You should buy a Prius’ basically, and ‘Recycle!’ We already know that, we don’t need English professors to tell us that.”
  • My Bugs Bunny politics
  • Dissolving materialism rather than “re-enchanting the world” (and not hiding in dialectical materialism)
  • Why slapping furniture and saying “see, this is the REAL world!” doesn’t work, and also why Quentin Meillassoux is…not good
  • The failure of academia to keep the humanities valid, and why the theosophists (maybe) did it better
  • Why we can live and develop ways of knowing from that, instead of merely developing knowledge to shape and describe how we live

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Jason, here’s his Williams College website (with lots of info). Here he is talking to Vanessa Sinclair on the excellent Rendering Unconscious podcast.

• Here’s me with anti-productivity philosopher Brian O’Connor on AEWCH 89, where we also talk quite a bit (and positively!) about Adorno. And I talked about a lot of these themes from a completely different angle on AEWCH 137 with Mitch Horowitz!

• I have to say I have some hesitations about Jason’s claim that occultism was not central to the Nazi project or Hitler’s mission! I think there’s a very strong link, although I agree that it’s “overplayed” in many ways. See Hitler: The Occult Messiah, by Gerald Suster for a counterpoint. Suster’s book also has some mistakes, but he at least takes the occult seriously as something other than just religious mind-control and stupidity. That said, it’s a very difficult book to get!

Paranormal America (Second Edition): Ghost Encounters, UFO Sightings, Bigfoot Hunts, and Other Curiosities in Religion and Culture is an excellent study (with TONS of data) on paranormal beliefs in the US.

• Witchcraft never disappeared in the UK, and I talk about it with Thomas Waters on AEWCH 98. You should also check out his truly excellent book, Cursed Britain

• The mountain that is there and is not there comes from Zen teacher Qingyuan Weixin: “Before I had studied Chan / Zen for thirty years, I saw mountains as mountains and rivers as rivers when I arrived at a more intimate knowledge, I came to the point where I saw that mountains are not mountains, and rivers are not rivers. But now that I have got its very substance I am at rest. For it’s just that I see mountains once again as mountains and rivers once again as rivers.”

Until next time!
CH

“Do not trust those who analyze magic. They are usually magicians in search of revenge.” – Bruno Latour