Soma is a group therapy where people come together for about 18 months to do physical exercises and engage in personal and political discussion. It combines ideas from Austrian Jewish psychologist Wilhelm Reich, capoeira Angola, and anarchism. And unlike traditional psychotherapy, Soma rejects the authority of the therapist: during a session, a therapist is present, but he or she participates equally with the other members of the group and does not draw conclusions or make analysis. There is an emphasis on pleasure and physical release. The documentary shows Soma groups deep in physical play, doing theater and movement exercises. Participants call the work difficult but “delicious.”
Now decades later, Soma has spread across the world and is still liberating modern-day revolutionaries — young people, artists and students — who are fighting against the bourgeois and seeking liberation.
(via Dark Roasted Blend)
Someone sent me a link to a site that is promoting a re-enactment of the protests at the Democratic Convention of 1968. While some of my older activist friends and I kinda like the idea of a ritual in remembrance of this day, the first question that popped in our heads was ‘What’s the point?’ Their mission statement says:
’40 years ago this August, the streets of Chicago became a bloody open forum on the politics of power and resistance, as the Democratic National Convention lapsed into chaos and protesters in the streets were met with the gas and bayonets of Law and Order. The ghosts of this unresolved history haunt us to this day. We meet on August 28 in Grant Park to peacefully purge these ghosts and to make sense of our past through ritual reenactment, a living history lesson for the city of Chicago which asks, where were we then?, and where are we now?’
Although it may be an interesting and memorable history lesson, these are very different times, and re-enacting a violent day in history will do nothing to change the status quo. But the questions are being asked in order to gain some perspective. This led me to question how activism has changed during the past 40 years, and to wonder where it will go from here.
‘Where were we then?’
Many of the rights some of us have now were because of what happened in ’68. New frontiers were broken by the exploration of sexuality (free love), mind-altering drugs, the human potential movement, and alternative religions, The young and the oppressed banded together to express outrage at a system that didn’t recognize their rights, to demand equality, and to protest the war being fought in Vietnam. And though it seems that we’re in a similar place now with people who are fed up with a rogue government and another insane war, many people seem complacent and apathetic. Why? This leads to:
‘Where are we now?’
We’re in an Age of Apathy. People are too busy working two jobs to make ends meet, playing video games, social networking, texting, chatting, emailing, watching TV, and consuming whatever they can in part to quell their anger and fill an empty hole that’s surrounded by a wall of cynicism. Activism is still alive and well, but it’s nowhere near as organized as it was in the late ’60’s and ’70’s. The human potential movement with its emphasis of individualism and ‘looking out for #1’ has run amuck. The major human rights fights that were fought for in the 60’s and 70’s have now branched off into smaller, differentiated groups. Now there are various smaller groups, all trying to make their voices heard. All these smaller branches screaming their own tune drowns out any major song sung loudly in unity. So let me add another question;
‘Where are we going?’
The computer age has brought activism to the internet. The success of Anonymous’ protests against Scientology has given us a new model. And they’re not the only ones doing this. It’s difficult to organize people that are only known through cyberspace, but it’s being done and changes are happening. Blogs and forums are proving to be a powerful medium in making peoples voices heard. They’re even more potent when added with actual protests. The bigger challenge may be to spur the people who have become cynical and distrustful during these past years into action within a larger group setting. There are good reasons for their cynicism and distrust, but that’s a whole other article in itself.
I think the questions this group asks are a good starting point for a dialogue. But the last question is can people rise above all the in-fighting and bickering that goes on within certain groups, long enough to organize and attempt to make a difference? And then keep up the momentum once change has begun?
(Also: the documentary “1968”)
Contrary to the general assumption that people involved in bondage and discipline and sadomasochism (BDSM) are sexually deficient, a new sex survey has now shows that such people are not damaged or dangerous, and might even be happier than those who practise ‘normal’ sex.
The study of 20,000 Australians by public health researchers at the University of New South Wales has revealed that two per cent of adult Australians regularly partake in sadomasochism and dominance and submission-type sexual role-play. […]
Prof Richters said that the findings went against professional views of BDSM.
“People with these sexual interests have long been seen by medicine and the law as, at best, damaged and in need of therapy and, at worst, dangerous and in need of legal regulation,” she said.
She also revealed that there was an assumption that those involved in BDSM were sexually deficient in some way, “and need particularly strong stimuli such as being beaten or tied up to become aroused”.
She expressed hope that her findings would help change those stereotypes.
“Zen anarchy? What could that be ? Some new variations on the koans, those classic proto-Dadaist Zen ‘riddles’? What is the Sound of One Hand making a Clenched Fist? If you see a Black Flag waving on the Flagpole, what moves? Does the flag move? Does the wind move? Does the revolutionary movement move? What is your original nature-before May ?68, before the Spanish Revolution, before the Paris Commune?
Somehow this doesn’t seem quite right. And in fact, it’s unnecessary. From the beginning, Zen was more anarchic than anarchism. We can take it on its own terms. Just so you don’t think I’m making it all up, I’ll cite some of the greatest and most highly-respected (and respectfully ridiculed) figures in the history of Zen, including Hui-Neng (638-713), the Sixth Patriarch, Lin-Chi (d. 867), the founder of the Rinzai school, Mumon (1183-1260), the Rinzai master who assembled one of the most famous collections of koans, Dogen (1200-1253), the founder of Soto, the second major school, and Hakuin (1685-1768), the great Zen master, poet and artist who revitalized Zen practice.
I. Smashing States of Consciousness
This is what all the great teachers show: Zen is the practice of anarchy (an-archy) in the strictest and most super-orthodox sense. It rejects all ‘archys’ or principles-supposedly transcendent sources of truth and reality, which are really no more than fixed ideas, mental habits and prejudices that help create the illusion of dominating reality. These ‘principles’ are not mere innocuous ideas. They are Imperialistic Principalities that intrude their sovereign power into our very minds and spirits. As anti-statist as we may try to be, our efforts will come to little if our state of mind is a mind of state. Zen helps us dispose of the clutter of authoritarian ideological garbage that automatically collects in our normal, well-adjusted mind, so that we become free to experience and appreciate the world, nature, and the ‘Ten Thousand Things,’ the myriad beings around us, rather than just using them as fuel for our ill-fated egoistic cravings.”
(via Precious Metal. Also: Zen Anarchy-pt 2 “Killing The Buddha: Zen’s Assault on Authority”, Pt 3 “The Koan: Entering The Jetstream”)
“The bronze figure of Giordano Bruno that stands at the center of Rome’s Campo de’ Fiori may be the most successful commemorative monument in the world. The average statue in a park or square usually rates no more than a glance: Either you already know who the guy is, or you don’t care. But the hooded and manacled effigy of Bruno, with its haunted stare, immediately catches the eye, and the gruesome story attached to it — Bruno was burned at the stake in that very spot, for the crime of heresy — cements him in memory. Practically every tourist who comes to Rome tromps through the Campo and hears that story, even if they’ve never heard of Bruno before. The students who commissioned the statue in the 1880s, as an emblem for freedom of thought and the division of church from state, really got their money’s worth.
But who was Giordano Bruno, and why was he executed in the Campo de’ Fiori in 1600? A common misperception mixes him up with Galileo, who ran into trouble with the church 16 years later for embracing the Copernican model of the solar system instead of endorsing the Aristotelian belief that the sun revolves around the Earth. (In fact, the two men shared an Inquisitor, the implacable Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, canonized by the Catholic Church in 1930.) Bruno, too, thought that the Earth circled the sun, and subscribed to many other than heterodox ideas as well: that the universe is infinite and that everything in it is made up of tiny particles (i.e., atoms), and that it is immeasurably old. But as Ingrid Rowland demonstrates in her new biography of the renegade thinker, “Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic,” Bruno was no martyr for science. What got him killed was a murky mixture of spiritual transgression and personal foibles, combined with a large dose of bad luck.”
(via Salon. h/t:Professor Hex)