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Transcendent: Art and Dharma in a Time of Collapse (Paperback)
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"Scholars of Buddhism will benefit from White’s shrewd takes." - Publishers Weekly
Acclaimed cultural critic Curtis White examines current fissures in Western Buddhism and argues against the growth of scientific and corporate dharma, particularly in Stephen Batchelor's Secular Buddhist movement.
In Transcendent, celebrated cultural critic Curtis White, asks what Buddhism will look like in the future. Do we want a secular Buddhism that looks like corporations and neuroscience? Or do we want a Buddhism that still provides refuge from the debased world of money and things? Transcendence is not about magic realms where spirits fly about; the world is, as Shunryu Suzuki put it, its own magic. We only need to reclaim it and reclaim our humanity while we’re at it.
The problem White suggests is a culture that recognizes only "things," capitalist things and science things, and aggressively denies the idea that the world of things has a beyond. We're told by science ideologues like the New Atheists that we live in a secular age and that philosophy is dead, and art is only an amusement, and transcendence is not wanted because science can provide all the wonder and beauty we need.
Transcendent is a call for the re-enchantment not only of Buddhism but also of our Western art traditions. White recalls the risks and the raptures of the English Romantics, Beat poets, and the children of the counterculture, all in the name of a living world, and in defiance of our current world of climate catastrophe, contagious disease, and social collapse.
About the Author
Curtis White is a novelist and social critic whose works include Memories of My Father Watching TV, The Middle Mind, and, more recently, The Science Delusion, We Robots, and Lacking Character. His essays have appeared in Harpers and Tricycle. He taught English at Illinois State University. He is the founder (with Ronald Sukenick) of FC2, a publisher of innovative fiction run collectively by its authors. He lives in Port Townsend, WA.
“Why has the West become so fascinated by Buddhism — making it the most popular non-Western tradition? Because Buddhist views of transcendence resonate so deeply with important aspects of our own culture. Curtis White’s Transcendent lovingly explores many of these parallels and interactions. It helps me understand better my attraction to both.” — David Loy, author of Ecodharma: Buddhist Teachings for the Ecological Crisis
"Provocative...[Transcendent] amounts to a convincing case that will resonate with progressives seeking to 'free ourselves from the [capitalistic] world that we were born into' and 'change the way we live.' Scholars of Buddhism will benefit from White’s shrewd takes." — Publishers Weekly
"I don't have much extra reading time, but I read Transcendent: Art and Dharma in a Time of Collapse twice....With urgency, warmth, and incisive prose, White [questions] what it is we're practicing if the practice is apologetic, devoid of mystery, and reduced to something that helps us adjust more comfortably to a world of delusion and harm."— Lion's Roar