Monthly Archives: February 2012

Reading Forum for Week Three, reposted: Pietism Redux

There’s something a little wacky with WordPress tonight — the page I made for our Reading Forum Week 3 literally keeps disappearing. So here it is below as a Post on the main page. Hopefully I can get this fixed in the morrow, and you can be posting back under the Reading Forum page over the weekend… The problem seems to be fixed this Friday morning! Reading Forum and Minilecture Three are appearing in their proper places, no longer vanishing from the menu option. So I will delete below the reposting I did last night. Maybe blogs can suffer from sleep-deprivation like overworked humans, and wonders can be worked by a night of rest. Please shout-out if you notice anything strange going on, pages disappearing and the like. Thanks!

Minilecture 3: Swedenborg, Pietism, Romanticism

New Video Posted

Hi everyone —

Just wanted to draw to your attention that there’s a new link under the Videotheque to another presentation from the 2010 Swedenborg Symposium at the Royal Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, which may be of interest. The presentation is by Professor Jane Williams-Hogan, and concerns the impact of Swedish Lutheranism on Swedenborg’s Marriage Love (1768). This ties in very nicely with this week’s course of readings on the background religious context for Swedenborg, and expands the scope of consideration beyond what we’ve been saying about Pietism.

Minilecture 2: War, Pietism, and the Scientific Revolution

Swedenborg and the Madness Question

Swedenborg winking?! Yes, this tongue-in-cheek photoshopping of a well-known Swedenborg portrait is effective P.R. for an upcoming exhibit of contemporary artists in England that are using the old question of whether or not Swedenborg went through a period of temporary insanity as an opportunity for artistic exploration. Click here for more info. on the show, which opens in London this upcoming Saturday, and yet again demonstrates how the artistic engagement with Swedenborg (be it his persona or his ideas), is not something relegated to the nineteenth century: that he continues to remain a point of interest for a number of contemporary artists.

The madness question came up in our readings–however briefly–for this week as well. Though there are certain provenance and reliability issues with the original testimony of Brockmer (who apparently witnessed Swedenborg running around naked in the muddy streets of London, and declaring himself to be the Messiah), as Smoley admits, some more recent scholars have given some weight to Brockmer’s original claims. Van Dusen’s explorations of hypnagogia and trance states–and how important these were for ES–also point out that there “is a high correlation between the content of psychotic hallucinations and trancelike material” (28). And Smoley also remarks how “psychiatry has come to recognize the ‘spiritual emergency’ as a unique psychological category in its own right…. In traditional cultures, this can produce ‘shamanic crises,’ in which the aspirant may feel he is being attacked by spirits or even disassembled and restructured” (23).

At any rate, the ambiguity around the 1744 incident has provoked a fascinating reverberation in contemporary art, 268 years later.

Minilecture 1: Swedenborg and the “Inner Journey”