Lament, loss, exile and oblivion

How many different ways can you approach a particular area of interest? Well if the call for papers for this symposium in any indication, heaps. We came across it n the latest newsletter from the The Centre for Death and Society (CDAS), University of Bath, in the UK..

It’s going to be a packed program with over 33 topics covered. It just goes to show how many ways you can come at an area of interest when you take an academic approach to it. Gone are the days of the overall general holistic ways of knowing. Now, as with many aspects of science and technology it’s all about drilling down into the minute detail and for us getting overwhelmed to the point of paralysis and then being at the mercy of those who have a commercial interest in simply getting on with the job – we take a pain out of painful situations they say.

There can be some merit in examining the components that go to make up the whole, but let’s not get overtaken to the point where we have to hand everything over the professional undertaker. Here’s some of the notes about the symposium … with the list of 33 topics.

Cultures of Lament, Exile, and Oblivion: A Symposium – Fri 28th Jan 2022

The Fellows of St John’s College, Durham University, in collaboration with the Department of Theology and Religion, warmly invite your interest in this one-day symposium on Cultures of Lament, Exile, and Oblivion.

While papers on each theme in relation to specific data, texts, or research questions will structure our proceedings, the Symposium Committee particularly encourages proposals on the nuances and opportunities of their thematic relationship by teasing out expressions of their mutual configuration in the complexity of human lives.

What might lament, exile, or oblivion – and their venerable histories of experience – convey to us today? What are their hermeneutical and ethical implications for our grasp of the human condition? These great themes of existence lie at the heart of our Call for Research and how, across diverse cultures and eras, they are experimentally pursued in the rhyme and reason of ritual-symbolism, narrative, myth, art and architecture, and the dramatic textures of politics and poetry, faith, music, identity, and ethics not least. Why, then, do some human cultures, religious or otherwise, persist in depictions of a world of ultimate oblivion for its mortal inhabitants? What might this declare about our epistemologies, our cultural classifications, our emotional or psychological adjudications of the world into which we are thrown? How might oblivion illuminate discussions in our contemporary age, so often diagnosed with social fracture, amnesia, and malaise, and spring forth the hope of their opposite in belonging, memory, and rootedness?

What kind of truth might exile speak to the human condition at large as well as to the displaced of our own day, the marginalised, those in flight from their homeland? And how or why do these experiences often issue in songs of lament, in ritual weeping, in social action and petition, and in philosophic schemes that bid to reveal or conceal the depth of our vulnerable exposure? In short, how have these brute facts of mortal life aided the pinch or push of intellectual, artistic, architectural, and musical creativity? Wherein lies the longevity of these forms in communicating what so often seems to trouble our words in the throes of lament, exile, or oblivion?

Themes of Interest: We welcome creative interpretations of the following topics in relation to our principal themes (N.B. this is not an exclusive or comprehensive list):

• Identity and/or narratives of belonging and resistance
• Protest and/or prophecy
• Environmentalism
• Sectarianism
• Ritual-Symbolism
• Diaspora, migration, refugee crisis
• Force
• Therapy and clinical approaches/experiences
• Theories of knowledge
• Escapism
• Desire
• Language, crisis, paradox; meaning making/breaking
• Technology, consumerism, and the periodization of being
• Existential angst/fear, philosophies of extinction
• War and peace; terror and offensive death
• The attention economy
• Qualities of relation, perception, and action
• Networked identities and the opacity of the self
• Mythic genesis and/or rupture
• Traditional-Secular spiritualities
• Scriptural and theological approaches
• Pastoral contexts
• Embodiment and/or emotion
• Time, temporality, tenses, and tonalities
• Altered states of consciousness
• Theories of culture and the human person
• Ethics, pain, suffering; theodicy and threnody
• Death, mortality, and grief
• Tangibility and material culture

We strongly welcome presentations across a range of textual, historical, philosophical, musical, literary, artistic, and social-scientific disciplines as well as experience-led practitioners in the therapeutic and clinical sciences.

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