05 October 2007

Philosophy Class (Week 6)

We're working on Eliade's "The Secret of Dr. Honigberger" now. We pretty much just had discussion days on Monday and Wednesday, talking about ideas in the texts and discussing their implications. The idea of caste came up briefly. The original idea of caste doesn't bother me. It was a notion that everyone has some place where they fit, a place where they are on the soul's journey, and that's where they should be. What it's turned into is rather antithetical to that. Instead of finding where a person fits, each person is assumed to have been born into the place where he/she fits. People who don't fit are out of luck.

As for Eliade's story, it's a very odd read. Enjoyable, well-written, but...odd. Almost macabre, but not quite. I plan to make a separate post on it once I've reread it; I want to go back and look for themes. This isn't a story that you read once and get the full meaning; it's one you really have to go back and think about. But we discussed a few of the ideas in it today. We actually started on Wednesday, but I didn't finish the book until Wednesday night.

It seems to be an attempt to present mystical experiences in a way that the general public can relate to, in part. So that people who've never heard of these ideas can think about them, and maybe decide whether there's anything to them beyond legend. It's believed to be semi-autobiographical. How much is fiction? ^/^ Hard to say. For now I'll just give a very brief summary.

Eliade (or whoever the narrator is supposed to be) receives a letter, an invitation to visit a widow's library of occidental texts. She asks him to complete her husband's work on a biography of Dr. Honigberger, and he accepts, not least because of the spectacular nature of the library. He gets distracted, though, by the late husband's pursuit of esoteric meditational pursuits, recorded in his journals. He's repeatedly warned off of pursuing this path. And then... I'm not sure. That's why I need to reread. Something bizarre happens, or else the whole story was a dream/illusion, or...something else I haven't thought of. Anyway, that's why I need to read it again.

We had another class-related discussion over at College Market. Four of us went with Dr. Levenson and just chatted for a while about anything and everything. There was me, Travis, Jen (THE most vocal student in the class), and someone else whose name I'm going to have to find out from Melissa, as he's also in the beginning taiji class. Incidentally, I highly recommend Dragonwell Green Tea. Much smoother than the Gunpowder I tried there last time.

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