Autumn Talks 2020

I’ll be giving several talks this October and November. Here are the details.

On 22 October I’ll be speaking about the Silver Age to students in the Slavic and Eurasian Studies department of the University of Texas at Austin. I write about the Silver Age, a remarkably creative time in Russian history that stretched from around 1890 to 1917 and the Bolshevik Revolution, in my book The Return of Holy Russia. It was a time of great interest in mysticism, magic, and the spiritual, with a brooding sense of the apocalypse, not unlike our own… I am not sure if the talk will be open to the public or if it will be available online. Details to follow.

On 25 October, starting at 6:00 PM London time, I’ll be giving the first of a series of talks for the Theosophical Society in England about “Esotericism and the Evolution of Consciousness,” based on my book The Secret Teachers of the Western World . This talk will look at how an earlier, “participatory” form of consciousness predated our more “alienated” modern minds, and how, although obscured by our more rational consciousness, it remained as the source of another “way of knowing.”

Part 2 in this series will be given on 8 November (6:00 pm UK time). “Esoteric Renaissance and Underworld” will look at how, following the rise of Christianity, the Hermetic tradition was kept alive in the Arab world and later transmitted to the west, where it influenced the Renaissance and other movements until it was forced to go “underground” by the rise of modern science.

In Part 3, “Toward the Integral Mind,” given on 22 November (6:00 pm UK time), I will look at how for the past few centuries we have been moving toward a possible completion of our “partial minds,” and how from the “Golden Age” of modern esotericism, through to the “occult revival” of the 1960s and today’s post-everything world, we have been involved in an important process in the evolution of consciousness.

On 26 October, starting at 7:00 PM London time, as a part of London Month of the Dead, I will be raising the dead, literally, giving a talk on the Russian Cosmist Nikolai Fedorov, who saw as the “common task” of humanity, the actual resurrection of the dead. Fedorov impressed Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, and his ideas later led to the foundation of the Soviet space program. You can find out more about him and the other Cosmists in The Return of Holy Russia.

On Wednesday, 11 November, starting at 6:00 PM UK time, I’ll be talking about “Trickle Down Metaphysics and the Goldilocks Theory of History” for the Explorers Club. “Trickle Down Metaphysics” is how I describe the process by which the philosopher Nietzsche’s prediction of a coming age of nihilism in the late 1880s, “trickled down” from the metaphysical heights of his mountain top, via postmodernism and deconstructionism, to the lowlands of the “post truth” and “alternative facts” that fill our TV sets and Twitter feeds. The Goldilocks Theory of History is about getting our crises “just right,” and I don’t have to tell you we have many to choose from. “Trickle Down Metaphysics: From Nietzsche to Trump” can be found in my previous post and at academia.edu. Goldilocks turns up in a few places in my books.

2 thoughts on “Autumn Talks 2020

  1. Hi Gary. I’m not sure my last comment was posted correctly, so I’ll try again. I really enjoyed the talk you gave earlier this evening for the Theosophical Society on Esotericism and the Evolution of Consciousness. What you said about seeing the world through ‘fresh eyes’ – as if for the first time – really resonated with me. You mentioned going out into your garden and looking up at the Sun, and being surprised by it, as if you had never noticed it before. It reminded me of an interview the playwright Dennis Potter gave to Melvyn Bragg in the last weeks of his life, in which he mentioned noticing how white the blossom on the plum tree outside his study window was (segment starts around 6:30): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpnyPl8-ZcQ. Perhaps it’s only in these brief, fleeting moments of heightened perception – ‘spots of time’, if you like – that both sides of the brain are working in tandem, symbiotically; and that’s when we get to ‘step outside ourselves’, to be ‘in the moment’ and experience the world around us without simultaneously grasping at it, labelling it, or trying to position ourselves within it. Perhaps these are those rare occasions when we’re able to briefly drop our preconceived notions of ‘reality’ and see things as they truly are.

    1. Thank you for this thoughtful comment. I would say yes, this is it exactly. These moments come more often than we realise. Our job – the left brain’s job, because “we,” the verbal “I,” live in the left brain – is to slow down and pay more attention when this happens. If we do they will happen more often. Think of the right brain as an intelligent, insightful, but rather shy friend who is too often inhibited by our constant busyness. We have to let him know that we are open to hearing what he has to say.

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