Academia and Beer

On Friday night, I went over to Pier 39 in San Francisco. This is near Fisherman’s Wharf and the whole area is this massive zoo of people, especially on a Friday. I had no idea at all.

I was there to meet my friend, Mark. He has a boat that he lives on and moors on Pier 39. Mark and I met through mutual friends and at Pantheacon back in 2001. He’d just moved down from Eugene, Oregon and had received his PhD in Anthropology relatively recently at the time. We had a little dinner and some beer at a cafe on the pier before heading over to his boat. I visited with him on Friday for the normal social reasons (and to see his boat) but also because I wanted to get some advice on the topic of self-cultivation and he felt that some of the references in his dissertation would be useful. His dissertation topic was on a modern (60 or so years old) goddess religion in Taiwan.

He gave me a series of references that look to be quite useful, a lot of them on the construction of the self and embodiment in ritual practice. On of particular value, I hope, for my thesis is “Somatic Modes of Attention” by Thomas Csordas. With the reference from Mark, I was able to use my research tools to through school to find a copy of this article (from the journal, Cultural Anthropology). I haven’t waded through the article yet in detail but it focuses on the body as the “existential ground of culture.” This is likely to be useful in talking about the ritual work of the Golden Dawn magicians since my thesis topic is focusing on self-perfection or self-deification as a goal in the curriculum of the Golden Dawn and derived orders. I have several other articles on embodiment and the self to examine as well.

I still need to wade into the Grimes and Bell ritual material in the next month. I have not heard back from my school yet but I am hoping to begin my thesis work in the next few weeks assuming that they can appoint a mentor for me.