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Projects

Hermetic Spirituality

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I am currently working on a book provisionally titled Hermetic Spirituality. I will argue that the so-called Hermetic Tradition has been largely misinterpreted due to the traditional dominance of Christian-theological, rationalist-philosophical and philhellenist ideologies in this domain of research. I interpret the Hermetica as testimonies of an experiential practice aimed at breaking the powers of astral fate and healing the human soul. The result was a radical transformation of consciousness referred to as gnōsis. The true meaning of Hermetic spirituality was lost almost completely during a long process of textual transmission by Christian scribes and scholars, but survived in a few early modern interpreters and can be recovered today thanks to the discovery of new texts.

Plans for the Future

Western Culture and Counter Culture

A Partial Story of Imagination and Power

What would "Western Culture" or "Western Civilization" look like if we made a serious attempt at rejecting the rejection of rejected knowledge ingrained in traditional grand narratives and historiographical approaches? What happens to our perspectives on "the West" if we pay as much attention to dimensions that have been neglected, marginalised or discredited, as to those that used to be foregrounded as superior and all-important by previous generations? Since I believe that after decades of reconstruction, the time has come for reconstruction, I want to tell a positive new story about what "Western Culture" is all about, or what it could be if we discard the old hegemonic patterns of inclusion and exclusion.   

German Romantic Mesmerism and the Nightside of Nature

This project will focus on the reception of Mesmerism in German Romanticism, with central attention to neglected key figures such as Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert (1780-1860), Justinus Kerner (1786-1862) and Carl August von Eschenmayer (1768-1852). Schubert's concept of the "nightside of natural science" became central to novel conceptualisations of Mesmerist somnambulism and its anti-Enlightenment agendas in German Romantic and Idealist thinking; and it became a popular topic of discussion due to Kerner's best-selling book Die Seherin von Prevorst (1829), written in close collaboration with Eschenmayer. Since Henri Ellenberger's pioneering Discovery of the Unsconscious (1970), it has been known to specialists that the foundations of modern psychology were created in this German Romantic context, but the precise nature of the connection remains unclear because of a lack of in-depth studies of German Romantic Mesmerism in the first half of the nineteenth century. The goal of this project is to fill that hiatus.