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Anamnesis and Buddhism

December 8, 2011 2 comments

A profound example of anamnesis occurs in the text, Buddhist Reflections on Life and Death, by Suk-Ku Song.  Suk-Ku Song is a Professor emeritus of Philosophy at Dongguk University and the President of the International Association for Buddhist Thought and Culture.  Song makes references to Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, Fan Xuanzi, Shusun Bao, and many others to strengthen his claims about the nature of life, death, and other abstracts associated between the two.  Song engages the reader through a gripping introduction where he discusses the Buddhist idea of a “process of overcoming the death through metempsychosis will be followed by ethical consciousness” (1) Metempsychosis is another name for the transmigration of the soul.  For instance, from Plato he conveys a message:

True philosophy is the practice of death.” What he meant is that philosophy is the discipline of overcoming the death and ofconsoling the death. At any rate, to Plato, death means the death of the body. But he thought that death does not mean the end of everything. What remains is the thought that the body will be extinct. Plato calls this thought “soul.” This explains Plato’s theory of the immortality of the soul and that of body-soul dualism. (10)

And he continues his discourse, citing Plato once more:

However, man can understand the Idea through Anamnesis. Tounderstand Idea, Soul should be liberated from the Body by means of “philo-sophie” or philosophical efforts while the Body-Soul complex live on the earth. Eventually, according to Plato, this understanding comes from thedeath. (11)

Through his appeals to authority, Song effectively conveys Buddhist rhetoric by drawing forth many voices from the ancient world and weaving them all together to strengthen his claims about Buddhism and the nature of life.

Song, Suk-Ku. “Buddhist Reflections on Life and Death.” Web. 30 Nov. 2011. <http://ftp.buddhism.org/Publications/IABTC/Vol09_01_SK Song.pdf>.

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Anamnesis and The Dream Academy

December 8, 2011 1 comment

In the case of the music video, “Life  in a Northern  Town,” by The Dream Academy, the use of anamnesis invokes nostalgia. The song was recorded in 1985.  The dampened colors produce a feeling that the film was shot long ago.  The scenes depict imagery such as a drive down a town’s main street, John F. Kennedy’s motorcade, The Beatles in concert, and people dressed in clothing reminiscent of the 1960’s.  Though living in a northern town is not a shared experience between the people who watch the video or listen to the song, the evocation of life during a simpler time creeps into consciousness through experiencing the artifact.  The use of images to convey anamnesis strongly resonates from this example.  We see and hear people cheering during a parade during a time when parades exemplified a sense of community.  We witness a solitary smokestack in the distance and it calls to us as a symbol of hard work and elbow grease, the elements from which all great societies are built.  Gone are the environmental concerns of contemporary society and the very idea of pollution.  We slip into a trance where we are lulled into an age of innocence, far away from the concerns of the present.  Oddly enough, the concept of remembrance does not contain a concrete foundation, but the abstract emotional response demonstrates the profound effect anamnesis has on our lives.

“The Dream Academy Life in A Northern Town Rare 1985 Full HD – YouTube.” YouTube – Broadcast Yourself. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O17MA58P-QY&gt;.

Anamnesis meets The Simpsons

December 6, 2011 1 comment

An interesting blog maintained by Joey deVilla contains juxtapositions between still shots taken from the popular cartoon, “The Simpsons,” and shots from the movies the show spoofs.  In this case, anamnesis transcends the confines of words, and embarks into the realm of imagery.  “The Simpsons” effectively mimics scenes from movies and once recognized, offers the audience an experience of humor through allusions to scenes that are usually more serious in tone.  When placed side by side, the scenes seem to be precise enough that to an informed eye, the connection is apparent.  The appeal to authority occurs in the original movie scenes and later appeals occur through the cartoon.  The exponential nature of anamnesis in this example conjures a complex and varied emotional quagmire.  The images presented in the movies are inserted into the cartoon, which in turn makes a move away from the original theme to drive the audience into another emotional experience, removed from the intent of the original artifact.

Whether it is Bart Simpson reenacting a scene from “The Karate Kid” or Homer and Marge Simpson revisiting a scene from “An Officer and a Gentleman,” the portrayals inspire a brief consideration of the original.  By evoking a relationship between the allusion and the animated medium, the impact of the memory triggered memory resonates into a multi-layered example of anamnesis.  Even the now famous meme uttered by Homer, “Doh!” has become a word used to convey a moment of slapstick calamity and to soften the mistake with humor.

DeVilla, Joey. ““Simpsons” Scenes and Their Reference Movies [Updated].” The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century — Joey DeVilla’s Personal Blog. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. http://www.joeydevilla.com/2007/09/22/simpsons-scenes-and-their-reference-movies/.

Categories: anamnesis, humor, website Tags: , ,

Anamnesis and Nazis

December 6, 2011 1 comment

A link, http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/catech.htm, embedded within the Calvin College website displays a Nazi pamphlet kept in the German Propaganda Archive.  The pamphlet explains the purpose of establishing a superior race and which attributes make up that race.  A quote from Adolph Hitler states, “Care must be taken, at least in our nation, that the deadliest enemy (the Jew) is recognized, and that the battle against him is seen as the shining symbol of a brighter day that will also show other peoples the path to the salvation of fighting Aryan humanity.”  Obviously, the pamphlet is shown as a mere historical document, but the message in the introduction calls it striking and mentions how it uses catechism in the title as a tool to suggest religious overtones. The academic structure of the archive presents a purely objective point of view fostered by the innocuous pursuit of academics.  However, the interpretation of the data by a visitor is wide open and considering the malleable nature of consciousness, there are no guarantees that someone would not use the data as a means to manipulate others into that belief system.  The ambiguous nature of anamnesis even lends a consideration of “what if.”  The information is there, and Hitler himself speaks from the grave to back up the claim made through the pamphlet and its 25 program points of the Nazi party.  The pamphlet itself is a rhetorical device that sits in wait for the wrong person to come along and twist the historical significance into a justification to incite hatred.  Ultimately, the ethics of information exchange will determine whether certain propaganda may be displayed so people will remember so as not to repeat the same atrocities, or whether the vitriol will manifest in consciousness at some other point in time.

Bytwerk, Randall. “Nazi Anti-Semitic Catechism.” Calvin College – Minds In The Making. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. <http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/catech.htm&gt;.

Anamnesis and Jesus is Savior

December 6, 2011 2 comments

When referring to another’s sound wisdom in an effort to persuade an audience, the website at http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Evils%20in%20America/CCM/dolly_parton-exposed.htm not only accuses Dolly Parton as supporting the power of Satan, but backs up their claim by quoting John Denver as saying, “Music is more powerful than Christianity.”  The use of anamnesis in this instance occurs when specific references are made to reinforce a flimsy supposition.  The odds of Dolly Parton supporting the army of Satan are as probable as teeth growing from a tulip.  The website uses an excerpt of an interview with her where she discusses her recording of the hit song, “Stairway to Heaven,” by Led Zeppelin.  The webpage includes excerpts from the Bible to back up their flamboyant speculation.  This use of unsupported assertions relies on the foundation of fear and inadequate awareness on behalf of the site’s visitors to lure them into a state of desperate contemplation.  Wake up or face the possible fiery afterlife that awaits them should they give in to their urges to listen to Dolly sing her little ditty about the woman who buys the stairway to heaven.  If their claim is not already rooted firmly in absurdity, they make a statement out of nowhere, “Dolly Parton has fallen into the same New Age heresy as Oprah Winfrey.”  Referring to the words and deeds of contemporary icons to support a fanatical claim is a twisted application of anamnesis.

Stewart, David J. Jesus Christ Is the ONLY Way to Heaven! Web. 30 Nov. 2011. <http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/&gt;.

Anamnesis: Overview

December 6, 2011 Leave a comment

The presence of anamnesis in contemporary culture is widespread and assumes various identities according to the level at which the definition is applied.  Anamnesis is a word from Greek meaning ana “again” and mimneeskein “to put in mind.”  According to the Silva Rhetoricae website, anamnesis is a “calling to memory from past matters.  More specifically, citing a past author from memory” (Burton).  Anamnesis is an appeal to authority.  Killingsworth utilizes anamnesis repeatedly to reinforce how appeals are made.  He refers to Martin Luther King Jr., Jonathon Swift, Thomas Paine, and others.  Each appeal is contingent upon prior examples.  One consideration of this analysis is what happens when historical references are used to back up claims of an egregious nature.  Anamnesis then presents a fallacy of distorted evidence.  A hypertextual journey with links to examples, and brief discussions of those examples, illustrates how the ubiquitous device sometimes falls into the wrong hands, sometimes into the right ones, and sometimes just falls short of any coherent rendition of truth.  Anamnesis as an appeal lends itself readily to nostalgia.  In some instances, whether or not the claim is logical and balanced, the device still manages to achieve the goal of persuasion or the possibility of doing so.  Since the definition mentions only the use of words as the construct that triggers anamnesis, it is worth considering the use of other media that initiate the same effect.

Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. <http://rhetoric.byu.edu/&gt;.

Categories: anamnesis, overview Tags: ,