RE: [xmca] chat analysis of ritual

From: steve thorne (
Date: Sun Feb 26 2006 - 21:02:46 PST

mediated and unmediated mind in spiritual practice is a contentious issue.

buddhism (and hinduism as well as other faiths) posit 'maya' or
illusion to be the root of suffering/delusion, which is associated
with worldly pursuits and states such as craving, desire, and
attachment. a transcendental reality is posited that is potentially
apprehensible, but that requires the annihilation of conventional
mediational constructs, emotions, and meanings. but presuming this is
possible, does it necessarily imply non- or un-mediated mind (what
would this look like??).

in vipassana mediation (focus on breath/development of
insight/awareness) or in tibetan systems that emphasize explicit
mediational means such as detailed visualizations, once could argue
that these systems are encouraging not NO mediation, but
qualitatively different forms of mediation (though the stated goal of
these mediated forms of practice may be to develop the capacity to
shrug off the mediational means when they are no longer necessary).

while i am not overly familiar with this literature -- there is a
raging debate between some who endorse the possibility of "pure
experience" and others arguing for always and everywhere
constructivist/phenomenological experience, e.g., mediated mind.

interested parties might look at the following:

Steven Katz, 1992: Mysticism and Language -- especially his opening
essay. (constructivist camp)

Robert Foreman, 1999: Mysticism, Mind, Consciousness (pure experience camp)


>As far as I understand the goals of meditation, it is to reach some
>state of unmediated awareness. Of course, one often uses a focus on
>breathing, a syllable, etc to promote this state so some form of
>mediation remains, at least as a means to an end. Perhaps the quest
>is more important than the attainment?
>Another example of "News from Nowhere"?
>From: on behalf of Mike Cole
>Sent: Sun 2/26/2006 11:55 PM
>To: Andrew Jocuns
>Cc: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>Subject: Re: [xmca] chat analysis of ritual
>Hi Andrew-- Sounds like that is a very useful example for my student.
>Here is something else to think about. Someone commented on the whole issue
>of what "unmediated" could
>mean in human affairs which is sure a good question:
>And how can prayer ever NOT be considered a mediational element in a
>relationship with G-d? How can one juxtapose the words unmediated and
>All worth thinking about, in concert, if that is arrangeable.
>On 2/25/06, Andrew Jocuns <> wrote:
>> Actually I did a paper on some fieldwork I did in Indonesian Borneo
>> concerning ritual using mediated discourse analysis a la Scollon. The
>> 'mediation' issue there was that before ritual could be performed alcohol
>> had to be consumed along with it. So before a story, or poem, or any type
>> of ritual that had to do with 'adat', alcohol had to be consumed. The issue
>> was that the Protestant Christian missionaries imposed a restriction upon
>> alcohol consumption. It was an interesting case where so-called
>> 'modernity', Protestant Christianity, was having an affect upon how
>> adherents to this religion practiced. Those who were not Christians drank
>> alcohol before the ritual, those who were touched it to their lips in a
>> symbolic sort of way, and were somewhat chatised for not adhering to
>> tradition.
>> I don't know if that helps, but I did use a form of CHAT. Someone who has
>> done a lot with ritual from a semiotic perspectic -- mediation! in the
>> Peircean sense -- is Rick Parmentier. It would be interesting to see
>> someone link the Peircean sense of mediation to the CHAT notion.
>> andy j.
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Steven L. Thorne
Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics
Linguistics and Applied Language Studies
Associate Director, Center for Language Acquisition
Associate Director, Center for Advanced Language Proficiency 
Education and Research
The Pennsylvania State University
Interact > 814.863.7036 | | | IM: avkrook
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