Wednesday, July 09, 2008

New books by Rusmir Mahmutćehajić

Fordham University Press is to publish more translations of books by Rusmir Mahmutćehajić, the Bosnian public intellectual who is the leading representative of Traditionalism in the Balkans.

Fordham University Press has already published English translations of three books by Mahmutćehajić, of which the first was Learning from Bosnia: Approaching Tradition (2005).

The new books, due in 2009, are
  • Malo znanja: O drugim u muslimanskim vidicima. In this, "Mahmutćehajić discusses one of the key questions of the modern world: how to identify and articulate the justification for open, plural societies within the Muslim intellectual tradition."
  • Preko vode: uz pjesmu Maka Dizdara „Modra rijeka“. This is "the outcome of the author’s many years’ study of the relationship between the universal perspective of the perennial philosophy and the traditional Bosnian heritage."

Mahmutćehajić's publisher in Zagreb, Antibarbarus, has just published his Stolačka čaršija: U vidiku perenijalne filozofije ("The Stolac Čaršija: In the Light of the Perennial Philosophy"), which should be interesting, but is not--so far as I know--available in translation.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

German Swami: Buddhism in Sri Lanka

"German Swami" was Peter Joachim Schoenfeldt (1907-84). He spent time in mystical circles around the poet Stefan Georg in Berlin in the 1930s, grew interested in Buddhism, and traveled to Sri Lanka in 1936. He became Buddhist as Nyanakhetto, and was later ordained as Swami Gauribala Giri.

By 1971, German Swami had a circle of followers in Sri Lanka that included the former American Beatnik poet Alan Marlowe, and the former Sri Lankan actor Manik Sandrasagra. They were all reading the Traditionalist classics--Coomaraswamy, Guénon, and Schuon. This orientation did not last, however.

While visiting the US with the Sri Lankan president in 1981, Manik Sandrasagra went to Bloomington to meet Schuon. When he heard of this, however, German Swami summoned him back to Sri Lanka. In Sandrasagra's words,
When I returned I asked him why. His response was “You need to be turned off from traditionalism.” He then showed me an article by Schuon that was titled ‘The Problem of Sexuality’ and asked “Do you have a problem with sexuality? Is there a problem with sexuality?” He then smiled and stated in Tamil the famous Yogaswami dictum “Oru Pollapum Illai” meaning ‘Not one problem exists’.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Ananda Coomaraswamy Essay Prize

The heavily Traditionalist and Maryami Philosophy and Religious Studies program at La Trobe University, Bendigo, Australia, has announced an Ananda Coomaraswamy Essay Prize.
  • Two winners will collect books and postage to the value of $200 from Fons Vitae Publishing and $200 from World Wisdom Books (the in-house publishers of Frithjof Schuon).
  • The prize calls for "essays that explore . . . the meaning of traditional symbols." Examples given include the drum of Śiva, the Rainbow Serpent of the aboriginal peoples of Australia, the shofar, and the hijab "in the mystical traditions of Islam."
  • There are academic and non-academic alternatives: the prize has two categories, postgraduate and "open."

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Alexander Dugin's Networks in Turkey

Key points from Marlène Laruelle's paper on "Russo-Turkish Rapprochement through the Idea of Eurasia: Alexander Dugin's Networks in Turkey," given at the Jamestown Foundation in Washington, DC, Tuesday, April 29, 2008:
  • The concept of concept of Eurasia (Avrasya) was developed independently in Turkey, and its exponents were initially critical of Dugin's Eurasianism.
  • This, however, has now changed. In 2003, the Turkish translation of Dugin's Geopolitics was published as Rus Jeopolitigi Avrasyaci Yaklasim, and according to Laruelle "seems to have gone over well with part of the Turkish military"--especially among "army officers disillusioned by Turkey’s loss of clout in NATO and shocked by the Iraq war."
  • Notable Turks who have participated in events or projects of Dugin's include
    • Suleyman Demirel, formerly president of Turkey
    • Rauf Denktash, at that point president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
    • Kurtulus Taskent, Turkish ambassador to Russia
    • Abdulkadir Ates, representative of the Turkish delegation to the OSCE
  • Dugin's main supporter in Turkey is the Turkish Workers’ Party (Turkiye İşçi Partisi), a "small communist-leaning party."
  • Nothing concrete has yet come of this, though one day it might. A continuing aim is "an interparliamentary Eurasian assembly, including not only Russians and Turks, but also representatives of Iran and the Arab states."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Eurasianism in Russia's ruling party?

My colleague Andreas Umland has raised the question of the significance for Alexander Dugin's Eurasianism of the appointment of Ivan Demidov as the chief ideologue of United Russia, Russia's ruling party ("Новый главный идеолог России," Glavred, April 1, 2008).

Demidov knows Dugin, having collaborated with him on Spas (the Orthodox TV channel on which Dugin has a program). Demidov has in the past expressed his admiration for Dugin ("doubtlessly, a crucial factor, a certain breaking point, in my life, was the appearance of Alexander Dugin").

According to Umland, Demidov has emerged as a "defender of Russia as a unique world civilization and an independent great power," which is certainly compatible with Eurasianism. On the other hand, he clearly rejects some of the more extreme positions associated with that movement, stating that "the word 'Russian' and 'fascism' are antonyms," and that he and his allies will fight against "the introduction of the term 'Russian fascism' in the mass consciousness."

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Guénon and Jeanne de Salzmann?

There are rumors of a meeting in Cairo between Guénon and Jeanne de Salzmann (as in Gurdjieff), and I am told that de Salzmann's current followers often value Traditionalist works. Any further information on this would be much appreciated!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

A Companion to the Works of René Guénon

Just published: Graham Rooth, Prophet for a Dark Age: A Companion to the Works of René Guénon (Sussex Academic Press, 2008). 400 pp. Paperback £29.95 / $59.95. ISBN: 978-1-84519-251-8.

"This book provides an overview of Guénon’s work. It is arranged in four parts each of which provides extracts that express his views directly and commentaries that summarize or paraphrase his written work. The objective is to allow Guénon to speak for himself rather than produce a critique of his ideas."

Good to see such a book coming from an academic press, as I said in the foreword to it.