NEO-SHAMANISM--Towards a Culture of Ex-stase
The Appearance of Intensive Expanse in the Digital Realm


MINATO: Listening to HOSONO and NAKAZAWA's comments I kept being brought back to the subject of the soul. The Greeks used the word "pneuma." The French word for tires is "pneu," meaning air, or atmospheric pressure. "Ki" (or Qi; air, energy, life force) in Japanese. The Greeks used this word in much the same way that we use the word "soul." The voice is the application of the air we breathe. Breathing new life into the air we exist on, in fact. Through the voice we express things inside of us, such as our consciousness seeking extase, for example. And it seems to me that our basis, our pneuma, or "air" is in critical condition.

NAKAZAWA: Pneuma, breath . . . . To perceive something ceaseless without causing it to stop, you must first eliminate the incoherence that you're generating inside of yourself. Then, you've got to have faith. Hunter-gatherer tribes had faith. There was something that they were calling "the gods of the forest," and it kept them alive. It was something that they could really believe in. And this "faith" is the same faith that brings us back to the shamans.

This is not the same faith that we find in "the faithful" in organized religion, however. For an example, let's look at the origins of Judaism. The Jews followed Moses into the desert. When Moses was leaving Egypt, he was full of confidence, talking about taking them to the "promised land" where, in Canaan, there would be an abundance of vegetation, fresh water flowing freely, really gorgeous babes . . . . (laughs) You know, he was just full of big promises. Problem was, that leaving Egypt was all good and fine, but all that his people saw in front of them was desert, desert and more desert. And it wasn't too long before they got fed up with his rap. They lost their faith. And just when their faithlessness had reached its peak, Moses pulled a fast one. If they continued on like this, all would be lost. So he hid himself, went into the mountains and stayed there for a couple of fortnight. Now during this period, the Jews' faithlessness was really rampant. And then, just when the faithlessness and godlessness was at its worst, he came back down the mountain carrying stone tablets. "Behold the word of GOD!" He said, and essentially bound everybody into a contract which is valid to this day.

This is not a great example of how to build faith. I mean, he's gotten his people into a position of extreme duress, and then pops a contract on them, right? The resurrection of Christ was another thing--this time Christian, that had to happen to bind "the faithful." The faithful are the ones that build up this system known as "religion," and yet somehow, at its base, it's always disbelief that lays the foundations. The appearance of a fundamental disbelief about the world would just seem to be a key factor in the creation of all religions.

Now, when you're speaking about shamanism, you are also talking about faith. The gods of the forest love the people, and furnish them with presents of wild boar and deer, and other foodstuffs. And that is enough to make the people believe. The Jodo-shin Buddhist sect begins from something that you can actually believe in, so the origins of Japanese religion are different from Judeo-Christian religions in this regard. The faith begins from an expression of faith in existence.

And yet it's taken a bit of a beating during this past century. Peoples steeped in disbelief forwarded their industrial revolution, and this culture of disbelief has usurped us. Now we ourselves are stressed out and uncertain. If we really want to get back to being able to recognize the flow and balance of pneuma or ki, it seems to me that we have to get back to a comprehensive sense of faith in existence. Wouldn't you agree?

HOSONO: The other day I was told by someone from a Shinto shrine, "You know, I never can explain the existence of god to people's satisfaction." (laughs) Maybe it's true that even they are a bit low on faith, or rather even completely absent of it, while on the other hand, musicians all have faith. It doesn't matter if you're working in Techno music or classical, I do feel such faith in all of them. Maybe it's because, in a much narrower meaning of the word, they all believe in music.

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