Sunday, October 20, 2013

Blavatsky News

*  Len Platt’s “Madame Blavatsky and Theosophy in Finnegans Wake: An Annotated List” published in the Winter 2008 James Joyce Quarterly gives over a hundred citations listing terms and concepts derived from Blavatsky’s writings in Joyce’s Wake. Platt, a Faculty Member at the University of London, believes that “Joyce understood theosophy not just as an insignificant absurdity that had a curious currency amongst Dublin’s Protestant intellectuals, but in a wider cultural context and as a symptomatic discourse of modernity.” 

[M]uch of the Wake material alluding to Hinduism and Sanskrit was likely to have come from Isis Unveiled and The Mahatma Letters, rather than original religious texts like The Upanishads. The half dozen or so allusions to ‘Maya’ in the Wake, for instance, need not indicate any serious familiarity with Hindu philosophy and could easily have been generated by Isis Unveiled. This has many references to Maya, and defines the concept quite neatly — ‘everything that bears a shape was created, and thus must sooner or later perish, i.e., change that shape; therefore, as something temporary, but seeming to be permanent, it is but an illusion, Maya’ [IU, I: 290.]

The paper can now be accessed online here.

*  The new issue of the research journal Theosophical History is out, dated April 2012. The main feature is an extensive examination of “Theosophy and Anthroposophy in Italy during the First Half of the Twentieth Century” by Marco Pasi. Dr. Pasi was part of the team behind the recent Enchanted Modernities Conference in Amsterdam, and, among other things, Associate Professor in Western Esotericism at the University of Amsterdam.

In the same issue Dr. Tim Rudbøg, Copenhagen, Denmark, gives an in-depth review of Jeffrey D. Lavoie’s The Theosophical Society: The History of a Spiritualist Movement coming to much the same conclusions as reached here. Taking issue with the misleading title (among other things) Rudbøg opines: “The reader is nowhere told that it is a highly specialized study limited to only one facet of the Theosophical Society or Blavatsky’s spiritual, intellectual life, The thesis of this book is no doubt historically interesting but the attempt to demonstrate it is so forcefully pressed that the end result is a historically one-sided perspective of the background, activities, sources and philosophy of Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society.”

Theosophical History is edited by Dr. James Santucci and can be obtained here.

*  Recently eBay offered for sale a bronze medal depicting a representation of Blavatsky on one side and the seal of the Theosophical Society on the other. It sold for $55.00 US. Aside from what is written in Cyrillic, any further information would be helpful.

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