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Mad Prophets of the Blogosphere

In the past I have poked fun at myself and other bloggers. Spiffy web designs, digital photos, and the extension of our mighty thoughts to the entire blogosphere, tempt us to puff up into a sort of mad prophet (without a license). Today I read something that made me giggle out loud, in Barrett's Irrational Man, p. 81:
The Greek word for "I know," oida, is the perfect of the verb "to see" and means "I have seen." He who knows is the man who has seen, who has had a vision.
Well, "Howard Beale" (of the movie Network) and the rest of us agree wholeheartedly!

(Movie information is at


Anonymous said…
Well, I don't know the movie but did pull out my copy of "Irrational Man" to check out the context of the quote.
These visionaries were shamans, those who connected the spiritual world to the physical. Barrett goes on to make a very significant point..the shamans were the admired in their culture and have been replaced in current cultures by the "rational philosopher nd the theoretical scientist."
I would say, we've lost alot in the transition.
Thus, we have created the puffed up mad scientists you referred to.
What have we lost along the way?
I too think we have lost a lot in the transition, especially since philosophers/scientists are too specialized to offer much that pertains to real life.

It would be interesting to experience a real shaman -- not the version that people romanticize at New Age drum circle.
Unknown said…
"a real shaman"... What would that be? A church's spiritual leader? Mumblings of a person in a trance? A politician who has all the answers?
Wandrin, I guess I meant a shaman as they really existed in the good old days, rather than how a modern romanticizes them to be.
Unknown said…
In the adventure travel that I read, I have read about shamans existing in various jungle environments -- the Amazon, Borneo. The most recent of those reads was "Eat Pray Love". Terrible book which I breezed through without reading about all the author's angst.

When she was in some Bali village, she met a shaman there and watched him practice his "craft". He used plants and mixtures and words for the locals for various and sundry events requiring a rite of some sort. Sounded a lot like the rites of churches. Hence my comment: a shaman by any other name might be a church's spiritual leader.
Now, now, Wandrin, let's not be condescending to witch doctors and spiritual leaders. Isn't Ben Bernanke a money shaman: he can create national wealth out of thin air, by his own admission. Perhaps that shaman in Bali is more realistic.
Anonymous said…
I see your point, Wandrin.
To me, this goes back to my previous reference to humans being, by design, pack or herd animals who are naturally seeking an alpha of some sort. You know, shamans, churches, "mad scientists", Ben Bernanke, etc. would never have the power of their voice if we, the lowly masses, didn't choose at some level to listen to them.
I see alot of this crazy mentality going on with this recent financial meltdown.....the credit cards maxed out, the bad mortgages, etc..........if the "alpha" (the banks, credit card companies, etc.) lets me buy a house I can't afford, etc., well, then it must be OK.
Anonymous said…
From what I have read about the type of Shaman that Boonie is referring to, they enter a trance-like state during which their sense of "I", their ego, is completely suspended and it is believed that whatever spiritual powers that exist in that culture then enters the Shaman and speaks or acts thru him.
Again, from what I have read, the individuals in these societies formed their identities from how they served the tribe. That is, they had much less of a sense of "I" than we do today. This is a crucial difference. They were much more willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of the tribe....well, they would pay a negative social consequence if they did not.
Whereas we today have lost this sense significantly. The "I" is of utmost importance. We have a feeling of intense entitlement as a consequence.
Just my take on it.
Unknown said…
I see your point about the real shaman suspending the ego. That would be great -- if all shamans could do that. No doubt there were shamans who recognized the power they held and took advantage of their status within the tribe. Not a whole lot different in the tribes of today believing the power of todays' shamans (experts, leaders, priests).