Disruption. X-buddhism’s network of postulation is a power grid pumping buddhistic charism through the lines of venerable transmission [see video title below]. Steadied by its rhetorics of self-display, the network extends to sangha sub-stations and into the affective-cognitive-decisional apparatus of the individual x-buddhist person. Speculative non-buddhist heuristics enable an interruption of the power surge in order to inspect its machinery and analyze its juice. (1)
Following on from the discussion at Der Un-Buddhist and here about What is non-buddhism? this post offers an example of one aspect of the decisional structure in action – namely affect (German version of the text at Der Unbuddhist). Please pay particular attention to the first five minutes of the video below, which is a good example of what exactly the affective aspect of x-buddhist decision looks like in person. The five minute long introduction is the prelude to a propaganda movie which weaves together a string of eulogies for a saint. A person disposed to reach out for spiritual help is seduced here via emotional framing into expectations which will lead her to judge the acts and statements of the x-buddhist thaumaturge in specific ways. The thaumaturge himself – the Dane Ole Nydahl – does not perform in the film. This is an example of skillfull means, Upaya as x-buddhists call it: emptiness – this empty space – is filled with a fantastic narrative about Nydahl, invoking his god-like nature – which in turn seduces the aspirant into an ever more intense desire to really meet the thaumaturge in person.
First a differentiation: Cognitive decision is a decision which signifies in the Laruelleian sense a kind of logical operation. It is a syntactical apparatus which brings thought – the human thought-world – into a certain relation to the Real. Affective decision is based on those structures of the human cognitive apparatus which utilize affective modes. One can say that the former is based in a symbolic system while the latter contributes phylogenetically older structures. Both result in an amalgam which isn’t easy to untangle and in which various components influence each other.
The three components of decision are the dyad datum/fact and a unity which synthesizes both. In this case here decision has the following shape.
The eulogies, the reports about the wonderworking life of the saint and the exalted and euphoric orations of the witnesses of the divine behavior of the holy man, are the transcendental blue print – the fact – for the expected conduct.
The actual phenomenon – the datum – steps forward as expected from this preformation, as a superhuman being who cannot be anything else.
If this impression isn’t properly critiqued the empirical datum feeds back into the transcendental fact. Thereby a reciprocal relationship unfolds between the general notion about the saint and the specific appearance of Ole Nydahl. The general notion finds its expression in specific appearances and specific appearances confirm general notions. This is the circular reasoning of (not only) x-buddhism – and hence the need to disrupt in the SNB sense.
The unity synthesizing this dyad is, in the case of the affective decision, especially difficult to understand. Affective decision, in contrast to cognitive decision, undercuts the niveau which is available for introspection – actual thinking. The circular reasoning of cognitive decision is perceivable as a specific logic, while affective decision is positioned partly in cognitive structures which operate below the threshold of perception and which are phylogenetically far older than the phenomena of cultural evolution, whereby the latter – and this is the important point! – ‘kidnap’ the the former.
From the point of view of evolutionary psychology one can see it like this: the pattern recognition abilities of human specialists like, for example, ornithologists or currency traders to instantly spot differences which are invisible to the layman, are dependent on cognitive structures which helped hominoids to make instant decisions about survivability. This regards vital instantaneous operations regarding the ability to decide if another animal was a predator or a prey, a harmless cohabitant of another species, or a partner for mating. Not to mention the ability of offspring to identify their parents via an array of sensual inputs. Evolutionary psychology postulates here cognitive systems which must be able to utilize such skills. With further evolution such systems are ‘converted’ to other uses, an effect which is known in evolution theory as exaptation.
Similar points can be made about the causal essence. To put it simply one can say that hominoids (like hominids and a lot of older species) are dependent on the ability to instantaneously recognize the state and status of a con-specific. From the point of view of evolutionary psychology the respective cognitive systems are ‘kidnapped’ – exaptated – today by symbolic systems which assign a certain status in the given social biotope to a high ranking person.
What this means is that the synthesizing unity which welds datum and fact into one concrete, immanent reality, has its origin in the cognitive apparatus partly below the possibility of the self-awareness of introspection. For x-buddhism this means that its dogma of look-inside-and-find-the-solution-to-everything has a biological demarcation line whose disavowal or repression could have fatal consequences (cf. the video at 13:45). (2) In regard to this complex, compare also Max Weber’s notion of “Charism”.
The film shown here acts, in its complexity, not only as a simple construction plan, but reaches at once out to the affective capacities of the human watcher. This is achieved via certain typical cinematographic techniques like the positioning of the cameras, film editing, the composition of the sequence of scenes, the underlying music and – very important – the sequencing and strict selection of what is shown.
An analysis of the target audience will presumably show, that it is the young, (or young at heart), white, well educated, successful, affluent, middle class type who is meant to be interpellated here. The problem with this nexus is that the reception of specific content is dependent on specific forms of cultural capital. Groups not in possession of such capital aren’t able to acquire content like the one offered in the video. Cf. for this Pierre Bordieu’s notion of cultural capital.
So we have two findings here. First we see how affective decision is exploited for the generation and subsequent satisfaction of x-buddhist desire. Second we, at least, must assume the possibility that this kind of Buddhism is very much related to certain social groups and that it only exists in such groups.
(1) Cf. Cruel Theory | Sublime Practice, p. 132.
(2) Cf. Biografie of an X-buddhist Thaumaturge (pdf). Cf. also pages 177 ff. in Cruel Theory | Sublime Practice plus the respective bibliographical references.
See also the section Affect in the previous post What is Non-Buddhism?
This video is featured on Dharma i okolice. Our thanks to Tomek Idzik (for the link and certain suggestions concerning the text)