The Return of History

I just wanted to alert you to what promises to be a damned interesting lecture series coming up on CBC Radio. The annual Massey Lectures will be delivered by Jennifer Welsh (who seems remarkably young to be a UN Special Adviser), and are entitled “The Return of History”.  You can read something about Welsh’s theme on the CBC website. An itinerary for the lecture tour and the broadcast series is posted here. The broadcast should be available online on the CBC Radio Ideas programme in early November. Apparently, a book by that title will be available after September 17.

“The Return of History”, by its description, seems very much in tune with what we are calling “chaotic transition” here, or “new normal”, “post-Enlightenment”, “post-truth society”, “nihilism”, and so on. It addresses the breakdown of democracies, the return of “barbarism” and things deemed “medieval” (by which I think is meant the decadent phase of Christendom — Inquisition, torture, witch hunting, rampant superstition, manias, disappearing of presumed heretics, and so  on). — all those lovely things we talk about on The Chrysalis, and of which we were forewarned by Jean Gebser in his cultural philosophy.

So, you might want to have your Valium prescription updated and on hand when you read the book or listen online to the lectures.


9 responses to “The Return of History”

  1. abdulmonem says :

    There is an article by Bill Moyers on Tomdispatch worth your read. It speaks about history and his return in a destructive fashion when the hyena rules.

  2. donsalmon says :

    I noticed in her bio, it states that Welsh is partially of “Metis” descent. I realize this refers to the indigenous people’s of Canada, but then there’s this:

    Metis /ˈmiːtᵻs/ (Μῆτις, “wisdom,” “skill,” or “craft”), in ancient Greek religion, was of the Titan generation and, like several primordial figures, an Oceanid, in the sense that Metis was born of Oceanus and his sister Tethys, of an earlier age than Zeus and his siblings. Metis was the first great spouse of Zeus,[1] and also his cousin.[2] Zeus is himself titled Mêtieta, “the wise counsellor,” in the Homeric poems.

    By the era of Greek philosophy in the fifth century BC, Metis had become the mother of wisdom and deep thought, but her name originally connoted “magical cunning” and was as easily equated with the trickster powers of Prometheus as with the “royal metis” of Zeus.[2] The Stoic commentators allegorised Metis as the embodiment of “prudence”, “wisdom” or “wise counsel”, in which form she was inherited by the Renaissance.[3]

    • Scott Preston says :

      Metis are mixed race, usually the descendants of marriages of indigenous and fur traders or settlers, most often French and Scottish. Didn’t realise she was from Regina, which is just down the road a few kilometres from here.

      • donsalmon says :

        Seems synchronous in some way with her theme.

        • Scott Preston says :

          How’s this for synchronicity — the discovery today of the wreck of HMS Terror in the high Arctic, along with the earlier discovery of its sister ship also wrecked in the high Arctic HMS Erebus around 1847.

          Terror and Erebus. Kind of unusual names for ships.

          • donsalmon says :

            Wonderful timing.

            I was just reading Alan Wallace’s commentary on Atisha’s “Lojong” training, a collection of 52 “slogans” to guide spiritual practice. The first 5 are aimed at pointing the student toward ultimate reality.

            One of my favorites is to “regard all phenomena as dreams.” This is not in any way to look at things as “dreamy” (as in an archaic or magic consciousness). Rather, it is to maintain the awareness – while “settling the mind in the nature state” of rigpa, or integral consciousness – that all perceived phenomena exist only by virtue of a particular conceptual (or more properly, ideational or imaginative) framework.

            “Settling the mind in the natural state” is simply resting in naked, pristine awareness whatever one is doing, allowing all sensations, emotions, thoughts, images, etc to pass like clouds in the sky, all the while recognizing one’s true nature as that infinite, vast sky which accepts and embraces all the clouds without distinction or judgment.

            One of the exercises I gave a group of lucid dreamers in some research i conducted about 25 years ago was to note synchronicities in daily life. All 12 found that their awareness of the synchronistic (i.e., integral) nature of everyday phenomena increased dramatically. It’s a wonderful exercise and the more you pay attention, the more inner and outer life cohere in magnificent ways.

    • Scott Preston says :

      I am hoping that her book and lecture series might shed some light on the depth and scope of what we are here referring to as “chaotic transition”, as well as her understanding of the undercurrents that are propelling it. Should be interesting.

  3. Scott Preston says :

    Maclean’s Magazine also has an article on Welsh’s lecture series on her take on “the return of history”

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