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Harold Bloom's Thought-Provoking New Book (REVIEW ESSAY)

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) May 18, 2015: My thesis is based on Walter J. Ong's work: We in contemporary American and Western culture today are undergoing a deep tectonic shift in our cultural conditioning. In short, our still emerging new cultural conditioning is deeply involved in stirring up our centuries-old cultural conditioning. As a result, the old themes of night, death, the mother, and the sea that American literary figures in the past expressed in various ways are currently undergoing deep evocations and changes.

Beatrice Bruteau describes the deep tectonic shift that we in contemporary American and Western culture have been undergoing for more than a half century as involving the new feminine era in the psyche that counter-balances the centuries-old ascendancy of the masculine era in the psyche in American and Western culture. She also describes the paleo-feminine era in the psyche that preceded the ascendancy of the masculine era in the psyche in Western culture.

But today in the new feminine era in the psyche in American culture, many teenage American boys and young men whose sense of masculine identity is insecure are most likely to be impacted by the still emerging new cultural conditioning. As a result, they may lash out at girls and young women -- and not just verbally lash out at them.

In the past, cultures around the world instituted male puberty rites to help teenage boys develop a secure sense of masculine identity. But our contemporary American culture does not provide teenage boys with this kind of important help.

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As a result, it appears that many college-age young men today are male chauvinist pigs. In any event, many American young men today do not have a secure sense of masculine identity.

If Hillary Rodham Clinton becomes the Democratic Party's candidate in the 2016 presidential election, she will be a lightning rod for American men whose sense of masculine identity is insecure -- unless of course the Republican Party's presidential candidate is also a woman.

Thus far, I have called attention to how disturbing the new feminine era in the psyche in American culture is for men whose sense of masculine identity is insecure. That's the bad news.

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The good news is that the new feminine era in the psyche in American and Western culture represents a potential great boon for spirituality -- not only for women but also for men. Not only theists but also atheists (also known as secularists) and agnostics can benefit from actuating the potential great boon for spirituality -- and the inward subjective personal experience of God (or the sacred, as Mircea Eliade uses this term in his book THE SACRED AND THE PROFANE: THE NATURE OF RELIGION [1959]). For example, the inward subjective personal experience of God (or the sacred) occurs in experiences of nature mysticism and in profound mystical experiences.

Now, in the Christian tradition of thought, what is referred to as God's immanence is involved in experiences of nature mysticism and in profound mystical experiences -- and to varying degrees in individual person's spiritual lives. The new feminine era in the psyche in contemporary American and Western culture is involved in the inner experience of God (or the sacred).

However, in the Christian tradition of thought, what is referred to as God's transcendence is also affirmed not only by orthodox Christians but also by orthodox Jews and orthodox Muslims and by certain early Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle.

By definition, atheists (also known as secularists) reject the idea of God's transcendence. Certain atheists are quite emphatic in denying the existence of the transcendent God -- in the name of secularism or naturalism or Gnosticism. However, not all atheists reject the idea of the inward subjective personal experience of God (the sacred), but of course they prefer not to attribute such experiences to God. For example, modern-day Gnosticism affirms the possibility of the inward subjective personal experience of the sacred in one's psycho-spiritual development, but without referring to God's immanence -- for fear that acknowledging God's immanence might necessitate acknowledging and recognizing God's transcendence.

Concerning a secularist interpretation of St. Paul's writings, see Troels Engberg-Pedersen's book COSMOLOGY AND THE SELF IN THE APOSTLE PAUL: THE MATERIAL SPIRIT (2010).

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HAROLD BLOOM'S NEW BOOK

Harold Bloom (born in 1930) is a secular Jew who still teaches English at Yale University -- his daemon makes him do it, just as it makes him write and publish prolifically. In his new book THE DAEMON KNOWS: LITERARY GREATNESS AND THE AMERICAN SUBLIME (2015), a work of literary appreciation, he centers his discussion on twelve American literary figures. In addition, he offers numerous allusions to other figures in our American and Western cultural history. He also works in enough autobiographical information as he goes that a portrait of him emerges, giving the book a personal quality.

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www.d.umn.edu/~tfarrell
Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)
 

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