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Community of Parting, 2019 Jane Jin Kaisen

Community of Parting, 2019 Jane Jin Kaisen

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Radical Spiritualism Online Conference, Workshop 
ラディカル・スピリチュアリズム プロジェクト

Radical (both fundamental, and revolutionary) Spiritualism came to my mind during the COVID-19 lockdown. The pandemic has forced us to reconsider the rationalism, materialism, and capitalism of our current society. This reconsideration is nothing new. Already in the early 1970s, there was a sense of doom with wide-spread environmental pollution as a result of ruthless economic growth. Matsuzawa Yutaka, the founder of Japanese Conceptualism, predicted that human beings would disappear in 2222 if we didn't stop producing more unnecessary objects, including art objects. Quite a few people tried to find salvation in spiritualism influenced by the hippie movement in the 1960s. However, with the arrival of the post-industrial 'bubble' economy in the 1980s, materialism and consumerism came back even stronger than before. Since then, the short-lived spiritualism in the 1970s has been seen with scorn and suspicion. Some historians connect the rise of spiritualism in the 1970s to the Aum Shinrikyo cult attack in 1995. There was also a group of feminists concerned with ecology and spiritualism, but they were criticized as essentialist. Moreover, in recent years, interest in ancient spiritualism in Japan has been co-opted by the ultra nationalists to enforce exaltation of the Imperial system and traditional values. 


Thus, spiritualism has been excluded from serious discussion, but treated (and consumed) as occult or pseudo science. Most serious scholars and artists choose stay away from it. Likewise, the radical  movement in the post-1968 era was said to be 'finished' with the United Red Army internal purge and killings in 1972, and thereafter, various political actions by Japan Red Army, East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front and other groups were dismissed as 'terrorist actions'.

In view of the pandemic and the current socio-political situation in Japan, it is necessary to critically examine and re-think the spiritualism and radicalism of the 1970s, as an alternative to materialism and capitalism. Even though they failed to bring about a solution to the environmental and political crisis at the time, we can still learn from these movements. Read more... 

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