The Critical Turn (Buddhism and Beyond)
New Books Network 2019
Critical turn #1 On a deep dark night in a deep dark wood, something strange happened over at the Imperfect Buddha podcast. Was it a moment of folly? Was it a moment of genuine madness? It remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure is that a critical turn took place and in good company too. For in that deep dark wood there was a gathering and a fire and those who turned up were Samuel Beckett, Peter Sloterdjik, Francois Laruelle, and Evelyn Underhill. Animal presences could also be heard amongst the trees and in the undergrowth, whilst the fire crackled away providing the warmth that would stimulate a rather atypical exploration of recent themes to appear on the podcast. This is the first of perhaps many critical turns, or, if it is deemed a forest fire like disaster by listeners and critics, it may be consumed as a one-off event, just like a Tibetan sand painting. As I have been saying for several episodes now, the creative and the critical are great bedfellows and this is my expression of a meeting between the two. There are strange sound effects, music, disembodied voices and narration. For the more practically minded, what I do is lay out a number of principles for guiding a sort of critical engagement with Buddhism, Buddhist materials, and practice materials more broadly beyond spirituality. I also reflect on the topic of mysticism which came up in my conversation with Ken and Hokai. This is in fact the intention for future critical turns, to pick up on and addressed issues left over from conversations with guests, identify unanswered questions, and make links to broader issues covered in the life time of the podcast. This may also produce interesting material to explore with future guests. It is an experiment, so it may or may not work. Feedback will hopefully be worthwhile and indicate the direction that further critical turns take. Prepare yourselves, expect the unexpected, and try not to take it all too seriously. Comments, complaints, suggestions, corrections, pledges of large sums of money, can all be made at the usual places. Enjoy the show!