Skinhead: Jamaican Roots, Extreme-Rightists, Gay Iconism — A Movement of Contradictions

Like the dreadlocked Rastafarian and the Punk with his or her pink or blue “Mohican,” the Skinhead — shaven-headed and wearing imposing workmen’s or military-style boots — has become an iconic image — an archetype, even. But of what, exactly? Even today, Skinhead remains an emotive and highly controversial subject. And we approach it with […]

Stranger in a Strange Land: The Male Image as Otherness

John Dee occultist as Ziggy Stardust

He exists as an embodiment of an almost pure ideal. He is partly (in Christian terminology) Christ and partly Anti-Christ. He embodies the ideals of society to such an extent that he is seen, and sees himself, as utterly unlike it. He is mystical and messianic, and — thin and often pale — he seems […]

Zen by Design: How One Spiritual Idea Informs Brands From Muji to Apple

Simplicity — in the particular sense that we’re going to be talking about — has deep roots in traditional Japanese culture, especially related to Zen Buddhism. Yet it has also become an essential aspect of contemporary life, both in the East and West, whether its tweeting in a max of 140 characters, creating a logo, […]

Conformism and Crowd Violence: When the Majority is Really a Mob

In the final weeks of the fall semester 2013 I asked the students in my “Introduction to Literary Criticism” course to read René Girard’s I See Satan Fall like Lightning (2001), which with The Scapegoat (1981) is one of the best portals to the man’s thinking.  I lectured a good deal on Girard’s text and […]

Strength, Spirituality, and Masculinity Against Materialism

“Make your nerves strong,” said Swami Vivekananda, “What we want is muscles of iron and nerves of steel. We have wept long enough. No more weeping, but stand on your feet and be men. First of all, our young men must be strong. Religion will come afterwards.” That religion will come after — and in some sense […]

The Four Warrior Practices for Achieving: Anytime, Anywhere

We’re all human. So why can some face down even the most terrifying situations, overcoming overwhelming odds, and achieving what so many others others might believe impossible? Reading the classical commentaries on the martial arts, listening to contemporary masters, and hearing how contemporary elite military units tackle situations, tells us that there are less than […]

Punk, Feminism, and the anarchist Femme Fatale

sexy punk girls

Young women did much to shape the Punk movement of the late 1970s, even if they often overlooked or relegated to the role of girlfriend and groupie (think “Sid and Nancy”). Along with Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood was perhaps the first designer of Punk clothing. Siouxsie Sioux was one of the more famous, and early, Punk […]

Hinduism’s Cosmology of the Divine Mother

On the occasion of Navarātrī, Dirk Gysels, historian and civil servant of the Belgian kingdom, spoke, at the request of his daughter Freya who runs a centre of devotional and ritualistic yoga to the north of Antwerp, about the “Cosmology of the Divine Mother”.  I present the major  lines of the discourse of Dirk, who himself practises Śākta spirituality. In […]