Humanities

Milkweed the sustenance
As to enter Arcanum
– Ezra Pound, Cantos

 

§ Writing June 11, 2019:
Inauguration of Course 13 in Vocations
The Humanities

Philosophia et septem artes liberales, the seven liberal arts.
Hortus deliciarum of Herrad of Landsberg (12th century)

With pride and pleasure, I am opening the Vocation in The Humanities for preview to staff and guests at Nemeta.

Audio – My Vision for Recovering The Humanities:

Corrections:
m48, first I mean WW I, then WW II, of course
m52 MBE, should be MBA, Master in Business Administration

(To download audio see curriculum panel below)

The IGS

By now it will be familiar to many of you that I often refer to the past, to events in my childhood or early or late adolescence, as a way to frame the material I am presenting today. I do not do so out of a sense of nostalgia, far from it. Nor do I wish to indulge in reminiscences that highlight the continuity of certain impulses and interests in my life. Truth be told, I have retained certain memories and sustained attention on formative events in my life, perhaps to an extraordinary degree… If that is so, I can only say that I might set an example for others to observe the rule, that what comes early to you, comes true for all your life, if you can stick with it.

I am convinced that each and every one, no matter what the conditions of birth, family, and early years, has been provided with ample clues and cues to set you on the right path for fulfillment, even leading to the transcendent and transpersonal dimension of your life. Central to my view of the human condition is the assumption (if you might call it so) that each individual has an inboard guiding system, IGS. According to the divinely originating design of the human psyche, each person is equipped to become self-guiding, self-directing. In the corollary to this assumption, I assert that activation and correct use of the IGS leads the individual to know and fulfill its unique endowment as a human creature, truly “the divine animal” invoked by Nietzsche. The original clues that come through the time and setting of your personal life are provided for the activation of the IGS: incoming signals alert and prime the system for lifelong use. As without, so within. Catch the signals and hold true to them, and your internal guidance system will come into operation as it is designed to do.

The teaching of The Humanities has the purpose to confirm and cultivate your internal guidance and enable you to achieve self-direction. The Humanities provide a support system for self-development, a tool of facilitation. Additional to the directional signals coming from life itself, there is the rich field of values and insights to be encountered in The Humanities. The purpose of studies in this field is to enrich and deepen your sense of humanitas, which is the moral and intellectual aspect of the species. You are born as a member of the human species, a specimen calibrated to a particular racial mix, but all that being so, there is no guarantee that you possess the status of humanitas.

So, how do you acquire the qualities and attributes of humanitas? The answer is the same for everyone. You grow these traits in the crucible of your soul or psyche by assimilation of certain nutrients, just as a plant grows. The nutrients come from life-itself and then from literacy, learning by the written word, oral discourse including poetics, and dialectics (conversation).  Call them life-based intuition and literacy for short. The signals that active your IGS, inboard guidance system, come from life experience itself in the form of omens, clues, dreams, encounters with people, places and animals, “elective affinities” (Goethe), all manner of input that catches your attention in a striking and enduring way, and builds your intuition into a reliable working tool, your moral compass.  All this growth-inspiring input comes to you spontaneously as you travel the natural pathway of your life.

Love of Learning

In Guide to Kulchur, Ezra Pound relies strongly on what he draws from ancient Chinese philosophy and ethics, especially Confucius (Kung Fu Tze, or Kung for short) a summary of works,  The Great Digest, The Unwobbling Pivot and the Analects (published as Confucius, New Directions). I underscore “what he draws” from it. Pound’s translations and interpretations are unique and idiosyncratic, a stand-alone production (I can relate to that).  Brilliant to the point of breathtaking. Pound continually hammers on the theme of “love of learning” found in the advisements of the Chinese sages. His proposal for the New Learning or the New Paideuma was an approach, undertaken singlehandedly in the 20s and 30s of the 20th Century, to recover The Humanities. Implicit in the standard for the love of learning is the return to literacy.

Literacy involves the deliberate act of self-cultivation. You develop literacy by reading, writing, oral expression, and investigation of languages. Through intuition, the signals compatible with your IGS reach you, come to you. By contrast, you reach for and seek out the elements and influences from which you will construct your literacy. The study of The Humanities is a practice of literacy, selective education that draws upon standards set in the past by those who exemplify humanitas.

The ideogram jen. In Canto 82. Jen [M3099, Matthews Chinese-English Dictionary] is designated humanitas or humanness. The left component (vertical stroke) is the character for the human animal (standing upright). The top stroke is heaven, the bottom one earth. Rendering: the genuine human stands between heaven and earth. (A Companion of the Cantos of Ezra Pound, C. F. Terrell, University of California Press, 1984, Vo. 2, p 457)

Can you fully realize humanitas without being literate? Good question. The answer is yes, but it is an answer that has to be qualified along the lines I propose in the audio intro on this page. In that talk, I also consider the immense damage that can be done to the IGS in modern life, and the some problems specific to the heroic journey of self-discovery, considered according to the liberal mindset, which I reject, by contrast to the esoteric Tantric approach, which I promote and teach.

Old School Humanities

What is the definition of “The Humanities” in conventional terms?

Humanities are academic disciplines that study aspects of human society and culture. In the Renaissance, the term contrasted with divinity and the associated body of studies comprised what is now called classics, specifically, European classical literature, Greek and Latin sources.  Today, the humanities are frequently contrasted with natural, and sometimes social, sciences as well as professional training.

The humanities use methods that are primarily critical, or speculative, and have a significant historical element — as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences, yet, unlike the sciences, it has no central discipline.The humanities include ancient and modern languages, literature, philosophy, history, geography, law, politics, religion, and art.

– Adapted from Wikipedia, my italics added

This rough and provisional definition can be supplemented by a reference to the seven liberal arts (pictured at the head of this essay):

Liberal arts education (from Latin liberalis “free” and ars “art or principled practice”) can claim to be the oldest programme of higher education in Western history, It has its origin in the attempt to discover first principles – ‘those universal principles which are the condition of the possibility of the existence of anything and everything’.

The liberal arts, also known as the seven liberal arts, are those subjects or skills that in classical antiquity were considered essential for a free person (liberalis, “worthy of a free person”) to know in order to take an active part in civic life, something that (for ancient Greece) included participating in public debate, defending oneself in court, serving on juries, and most importantly, military service. Grammar, logic, and rhetoric were the core liberal arts (the trivium), while arithmetic, geometry, the theory of music, and astronomy were the following stage of education (as the quadrivium).

Liberal arts today can refer to academic subjects such as literature, philosophy, mathematics, and social and physical sciences; and liberal arts education can refer to overall studies in a liberal arts degree program. For both interpretations, the term generally refers to matters not relating to the professional, vocational, or technical curriculum.

– Adapted from Wikipedia again my italics added

 

Basic Reading

Some passages in Not in His Image
Chinese Wisdom Channeled by Ezra Pound (Confucius, New Directions, NDP285)
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (Trans. Maxwell Staniforth, Penguin Classics, suggested)
Socrates in the Last Days (essay in curriculum)
Special case: “The Gay Science” and other leading ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche

If I do find the time and occasion to develop The Humanities by text and talk, and possibly, at best, a mentoring program, it will be dedicated to the historian and classical scholar I met as a teenager in Maine, Mr Jasper Jacob Stahl.

In development:

Socrates in the Last Days (noted above)
Children of the Damned: humanity the species versus humanitas
The Old Wine of Emerson: commentary on Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound
Extracting the Venom of Nietzsche

The Humanities Today

Then:

Artistic depiction of The library of Alexandria

Now:

Milkweed pods releasing pollen, especially favored by the Monarch butterfly

Milkweed the sustenance
As to enter Arcanum

jll – 13 June 2019

Course Curriculum

§ HIGHLIGHTS AND PREVIEWS
§ RECOVERING THE HUMANITIES
13 Audio – My Vision for Recovering The Humanities 1012 years, 10 months
Private: 13.100 Background to Metahistory 01:30:00
Private: 13.100 Essential Reading 1012 years, 10 months
Private: 13.100 Four Concerns 01:30:00
Private: 13.100 Socrates in the Last Days 01:30:00
Private: 13.100 Socratic Session I 01:30:00
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