Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Why only Dostoevsky and not, say, Joyce?

Williams on Dostoevsky’s Faith and Ivan’s Inquisitor
from Per Caritatem by Cynthia R. Nielsen
The church and postmodern culture blog recently posted my brief essay, “Rowan Williams on Dostoevsky’s Faith and Ivan’s Inquisitor.” [...] I highly recommend Williams’ book, Language, Faith, and Fiction: The Making of the Christian Imagination.

"As we no longer read Dostoevsky the way we did before reading Mikhail Bakhtin, so also, having read Williams, we no longer will read either Dostoevsky or Bakhtin as we once did." –Wesley A. Kort, Professor of Religion, Duke University (from Product Description)

"Such a Body We Must Create:" New Theses on Integral Micropolitics Daniel Gustav Anderson INTEGRAL REVIEW December 2008 Vol. 4, No. 2 - 123

Claims of this type, exemplified perhaps by Bakhtin’s (1984) hyperbolic enthusiasm for the religious conservative Dostoevsky and Wilber’s public endorsements of Franklin Jones (Da Free John, Adi Da) and, later, Andrew Cohen, along with books and publications by both (Cohen publishes "the only magazine asking the hard questions, slaughtering the sacred cows, and dealing with the Truth no matter what" [Wilber, 2002, p. xvii, emphasis added]), suggest that only this or that method, only this or that text or periodical or ashram, only this or that guru can yield desirable results—a difficult claim to verify.

Insisting on the exclusivity of Dostoevsky, for instance, begs the question: why only Dostoevsky and not, say, Joyce? Bakhtin shows a willingness to address this question, but never wholly resolves it, and in fairness, could not have read Ulysses at the time of writing his book on Dostoevsky. Analogously, one may ask of Wilber’s work: why an uncategorical endorsement of the claims of Franklin Jones at the expense of those of Shiv Dayal Singh, or Baha’u’llah, or Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, or Meher Baba, or any other, or not at all? 3:48 PM 6:55 PM

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