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Cluster index: James Gallant

Birds & bones on PBS

James Gallant: ‘The first identifiable object spelunkers in his team brought from the cave—a hominid mandible with teeth intact—would no doubt have brought a “huh!” or a “wow!” from just about anyone, though Berger’s characterization of it as a “miracle” seemed a little over the top. But the mandible was just the beginning.’

The reascent of the Decline.

James Gallant: ‘A number of the signs of societal collapse Spengler described are common experience for us: evisceration of rural areas and concentrations of atomized populations in great cities, gross economic disparities among classes, Caesar-like politicians with mass followings, propaganda disguised as political discourse, political parties serving as stooges for money interests, international military and political blundering, declining birth rates (associated by Spengler with feminism), effete intellectualism, bogus revivals of primitive religiosity, and decadent entertainment.’

E. M. Cioran and puttering therapy.

James Gallant: ‘Cioran in his mature writing evinces little interest in “good chunks of experience,” and as a recluse, he would have had few enough to contemplate. But given his disposition of mind that would not really have mattered. He was always concerned with human realities of a “universal” kind whose apprehension does not require extensive experience: the obfuscation of mortality by “doing”…’

New light on the ball in Brussels.

James Gallant: ‘His account of performing at the Duchess of Richmond’s ball is a rare engaging entry in the diary. He had been invited to perform in Brussels by the Duchess on the recommendation of Viennese Princess Caroline de Kinsky. An abhorrence of travel is a leitmotif in the diaries, and the trip by coach from Vienna to Brussels back then took about a week. His main reason for agreeing to suffer the ordeal of reaching Brussels seems to have been that the generous payment promised by the Duchess would free him f0r months from his “idiotic students.”’

The other side where sight is without eyes.

James Gallant: ‘Spatial metaphors are unavoidable in talking about the “other side,” but it is not a place, and in it there are no distances to be crossed. The only experience of angels analogous to the human experience of space, Swedenborg said, was proximity to spirits with whom they were simpatico, and remoteness from others—either state achievable instantaneously simply by willing it. None of the inconveniences of travel.’

Jeffrey Kripal and the secret body.

A Fortnightly Review of Secret Body: Erotic and Esoteric Currents in the History of Religions by Jeffrey J. Kripal University of Chicago Press 2017 | 448pp | $45.00 £34.50 By JAMES GALLANT. JEFFREY KIRPAL HAS devoted a substantial part of his academic career to what he sometimes calls, in ironic deference to modern skepticism, “impossible” […]

The Adjunct.

James Gallant: ‘Aurora’s had persisted in her “crummy profession” partially because her MFA from Iowa prepared her for little else; but she also really liked teaching. She had hoped early on that adjunct teaching would lead to a more permanent, stable situation, but that hope was long gone. ‘

The funeral of Isaac Albéniz.

James Gallant: ‘Along the way Catalan flags flew at half-mast. Albéniz noted with pleasure black crepe decorating the façade of a Catholic newspaper that had once condemned flamenco influences in his music. From balconies in the narrow winding streets of the old city people rained roses and carnations on the hearse. The procession paused in front of the municipal music school for students to pile flowers atop the hearse, and a little further on a line of riflemen at a military installation raised their weapons and fired a salute.’

Coleridge, poetry and the ‘rage for disorder’.

James Gallant: ‘It is in us, and perhaps creatures more or less like us elsewhere in in the cosmos, that Nature becomes conscious of itself. What was most startling about Darwin’s theory of evolution for Royce was not that humanity had evolved from the great apes, but that Nature had evolved a creature capable of understanding this had occurred. ‘

Otto Rank.

James Gallant: ‘Georges Bataille thought that the European cathedrals with their attached schools—permanent structures in space—had probably been as critical to the maintenance of medieval orthodoxy as the instruction provided in them.’

Modernity and metaphysics.

James Gallant: ‘There is really no way to get from science to natural theology—or to metaphysics of any kind—without taking seriously questions scientists, qua scientists, have no occasion to ask, and for which there are no empirical answers.’

Madame Blavatsky.

James Gallant: ‘Richard Hodgson’s apparently authoritative report on Blavatsky on behalf of the Society for Psychic Research, published in 1885 in the Proceedings of the Society had probably contributed significantly to the common view of Blavatsky. He represented her as an imposter, forger, Russian spy and instigator of frauds. ‘

Francesco Roberto, from his diaries.

James Gallant: ‘But when I delivered my little melody to him this afternoon I learned that the new song was, in fact, to serve a similar purpose. I was informed that my guitar and I were to participate tonight in a serenade of “La Belle Lily,” the Queen’s new maid of honor who has arrived from Paris to considerable éclat. She is fifteen or sixteen, tall and straight, delicate Roman nose, alabaster complexion, violet eyes, chestnut curls falling to her shoulders. Apparently she was raised at the French court during the exile of the English nobles. They say Louis XIV couldn’t take his eyes off her.’


James Gallant; ‘[Jacques] Vallee wrote in Dimensions (1988), that if you were interested in producing a spiritual revolution, you would need to “bypass the intelligentsia and the church, remain undetectable to the military system, leave undisturbed the political and administrative levels of society, and at the same time implant deep within [a] society far-reaching doubts concerning its basic philosophical tenets.” Those effects have been produced by the UFO and aliens, manifestations of the “little people,” and the materializations of the physical mediums.’