Recently another on-line writer, a "political science professor turned yoga teacher", wrote a response to Vanessa's article on porn star Sasha Grey. The writer, Carol, talks about finding our site and seeing the word Integral in the subtitle. She asks herself, "are they devotees of Ken Wilber?". Hardly. But I must admit, I'm increasingly in danger of becoming a devotee of Entitled Opinions radio-podcast host Robert Harrison!! I listened to about eight episodes of his show on my recent train trip to California, all of which I'd heard before and all of which kept giving and giving. Juma and I wrote an article about the show for Beams which you can read here, and the website for Entitled Opinions (About Life and Literature) can be found here.
I recently came across a CBC Radio Ideas program where Robert Harrison (a professor of Italian Literature at Standford University) is himself the topic of the program. That interview can be accessed here. Among other things, it's a great opportunity to hear Harrison talk about his own work, a three book trilogy- one on forests, one on gardens, and one on burial and death. Near the end of the interview Harrison speaks about the dark side of modernity through a meditation on Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness. Chris in his latest article about the movie Tron also speaks about the dark side of modernity, so I transcribed the Harrison passage as a compliment to Chris' piece. Here's that passage:
"What did the intervening century [since Joseph Conrad’s book Heart of Darkness was written] do to change the situation [of Western nihilism outlined in that book]? If one is honest, precious little. On the contrary, the twentieth century just enacted the most virulent forms of Western nihilism through two catastrophic world wars, and the endless genocides associated with communism and cold war politics and so forth. So it’s very difficult I think to soberly look back on the twentieth century and to say that the vision of nihilism that Conrad puts forward in 'Heart of Darkness' was not well founded. I think it was well founded, raising the question of whether we are to be stuck in that dark hole that he so vividly portrays for us, or whether the twenty-first century might find a way out of it…One of the visions that Conrad has of Western nihilism in 'Heart of Darkness' is of the sheer carelessness of the Western rapacious attitude toward Africa and the continent of Africa, as raiding its resources, and taking from the Earth as much as one can take without giving anything back in return. And this is the formula for nihilism. Conrad’s 'Heart of Darkness' sees Western modernity as a kind of ferocious drive to extract as much out of the Earth as possible without giving anything back to it…So the question for the twenty-first century will be whether a turn is possible in our relations with the Earth, whether we can return to the primary human vocation of being caretakers rather than destroyers in our relation to the Earth”.