Here's another book recommendation (and another title to add to my growing list of books to read):

 

The Hermetic Deleuze: Philosophy and Spiritual Ordeal.

 

From the site linked above:

Description

In his writing, Gilles Deleuze drew on a vast array of source material, from philosophy and psychoanalysis to science and art. Yet scholars have largely neglected one of the intellectual currents underlying his work: Western esotericism, specifically the lineage of hermetic thought that extends from Late Antiquity into the Renaissance through the work of figures such as Iamblichus, Nicholas of Cusa, Pico della Mirandola, and Giordano Bruno. In this book, Joshua Ramey examines the extent to which Deleuze's ethics, metaphysics, and politics were informed by, and can only be fully understood through, this hermetic tradition.

Identifying key hermetic moments in Deleuze's thought, including his theories of art, subjectivity, and immanence, Ramey argues that the philosopher's work represents a kind of contemporary hermeticism, a consistent experiment in unifying thought and affect, percept and concept, and mind and nature in order to engender new relations between knowledge, power, and desire. By uncovering and clarifying the hermetic strand in Deleuze's work, Ramey offers both a new interpretation of Deleuze, particularly his insistence that the development of thought demands a spiritual ordeal, and a framework for retrieving the pre-Kantian paradigm of philosophy as spiritual practice.

About The Author(s)

Joshua Ramey is Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Haverford College.

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Cross-posting from here:

I admit to being highly skeptical of a hermetic interpretation of anything, let alone Deleuze. This is largely due to my initiation into, and intense participation in, a contemporary hermetic tradition some years ago. I've discussed this elsewhere and found so much metaphysical baggage in this line that I could no longer tolerate it, being in my mind retro-romantic and quite regressive. Now I hear the buzzwords "re-imagined" and "re-invented" regarding hermetics, and thought this could be the case when I re-entered that tradition in the last few years, only to discover in a school purportedly intent on doing exactly that that the egregore, so to speak, is so rife with the baggage that I found the effort not worth the time.

However I more and more find that with Stengers and others there is sorcery afoot, in capitalism and elsewhere. I like Bryant's notion of thought-forms as objects in themselves, and in which we take part and are in large part controlled by them, as in ideology. A more modern term for this is meme, and they are much larger than any one of us, or even any combination. I prefer it because it takes out the timeless and unchanging form aspect of it, as memes, like Bryant's objects, are contingent, historical and material. Still, they are quite powerful, like hyperobjects, and very much like angels and demons, very much like egregores, and need to be changed to effect humane political enactment.

So if we can re-work the hermetic into something like this I'm all for it. But I'm not sure we can do so by accepting the perennial tradition's interpretations and practices, for they are hand-in-hand of a metaphysics of the most ontotheological kind and will only serve to contaminate, and ultimately defeat, a postmetaphysical project.

One can read the Introduction here.

Here's a blurb on one of his upcoming classes:

Can we believe in magic? Is it a betrayal of reason, science, and progress to take the supernatural seriously? If ours is a thoroughly disenchanted world, in which technology works whether we want it to or not, how can we explain our cultural obsession with entities that are there only if we believe in them--that is to say, with vampires and werewolves, zombies and wizards, fairies, elves, and a certain boy named Harry? In this course, we will embark on an investigation into the rich history and contemporary proliferation of debates surrounding the possibility and promise of the supernatural. Drawing on works of anthropology, esotericism, philosophy, literature, film, and other media, we will explore some of the more prominent strains of magical belief and practice, as well as some of the metaphysical perspectives that tend either to support or defy the world of magic.

A friend just gave me a heads up about the following review of The Hermetic Deleuze (which I have yet to read, but which is on my short list of books to check out).

From my blog post of 8/27/12 on this:

There is also some discussion of the book in this post referencing the Footnotes 2 Plato review. My initial response:

I admit to being highly skeptical of a hermetic interpretation of anything, let alone Deleuze. This is largely due to my initiation into, and intense participation in, a contemporary hermetic tradition some years ago. I've discussed this elsewhere and found so much metaphysical baggage in this line that I could no longer tolerate it, being in my mind retro-romantic and quite regressive. Now I hear the buzzwords "re-imagined" and "re-invented" regarding hermetics, and thought this could be the case when I re-entered that tradition in the last few years, only to discover in a school purportedly intent on doing exactly that that the egregore, so to speak, is so rife with the baggage that I found the effort not worth the time.

However I more and more find that with Stengers and others there is sorcery afoot, in capitalism and elsewhere. I like Bryant's notion of thought-forms as objects in themselves, and in which we take part and are in large part are controlled by them, as in ideology. A more modern term for this is meme, and they are much larger than any one of us, or even any combination. I prefer it because it takes out the timeless and unchanging form aspect of it, as memes, like Bryant's objects, are contingent, historical and material. Still, they are quite powerful, like hyperobjects, and very much like angels and demons, very much like egregores, and need to be changed to effect humane political enactment.

So if we can re-work the hermetic into something like this I'm all for it. But I'm not sure we can do so by accepting the perennial tradition's interpretations and practices, for they are hand-in-hand of a metaphysics of the most ontotheological kind and will only serve to contaminate, and ultimately defeat, a postmetaphysical project.

A few points on the review Balder linked. I agree that we must re-institute some form of transformative practice, but within a postmeta frame. For without that practice we do not re-connect with our unconscious, that archaic wellspring of our bodily heritage. Yet we must not therefore accept the mythic or mythic-rational frames within which such hermetic practices flourished. If we do we get the problems I mentioned above. We even have that problem within Buddhism, as I've criticized at length in various threads. As AP Smith noted, Deleuze himself was not in the least meta-physical or supernatural, his entire oeuvre being about immanence. Why, he asks, tie "spiritual and transformative practice...to something so spooky?"

For example, in Ramey's brief essay "Spiritual capital" (referenced above) he criticized Zizek for denouncing ritual, since it is tied to the supernatural. I agree we need the ritual performance (aka theurgy and my fricken' screen name, fer chrissake), but why does the mythic and supernatural baggage have to be attached?

I'm much more inclined towards Levin's postmeta reconnection with our bodily heritage via image and ritual.* His stage 3 goes beyond ego to Self through "the practice of self discipline," highly reminiscent of the recent discussion about Damasio and meditation. This is further developed by stage 4, letting go, "a distinctively spiritual accomplishment" again hearkening back to the meditation (and Washburn) discussion where we go back to more fully integrate what came before, while moving into something that never was.

* see p. 5 of the prior Gaia discussion, referencing pp. 47-8 of The Opening of Vision.

Free google preview of The Opening of Vision

On the OOO thread, Matthew provided a link to a review of this book by Jacob Sherman.  I'm only about 20 pages in to the book right now, so I'll hold off on posting my own thoughts on it till I've read a bit more.

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