A Meditation on the Tarot’s First Card

Reading about and meditating on the image of the Magician reawakened some old ideas in me: about the power and process of acting, my time as a major of video game design, and my readings in Islamic Sufism. Despite their apparent disparity, the ideas are anything but random: they’re all inextricably related to the symbolic image of the Magician.  The Magician is in a process of creating and forming something, with a mess of pieces around him, but his gaze directed elsewhere.

The first idea that was brought forth was my old interest in acting on a stage. I used to be in the Shakespeare club in my old high school; my favorite play to act out was King Lear. I wasn’t there for long, but I recall that immediately upon joining, when the initial interest and curiosity in acting had faded and made room for more deliberate and introspective thinking, I found the philosophy of acting fascinating: the idea of taking on another personality (or, in the case of Shakespeare, perhaps something bigger and more universal than that) and uttering the words and forming the expressions of another meant for their own unique situation, was immensely attractive on some higher level. It was always more than just memorizing lines and remembering stage positions: there was something externally creative about it that put me in both the position of total power as the embodiment of audience interest, and total helplessness at the hands of the script. Continue reading

Intellectual Tension | Abou El Fadl


“The Simple Religion”

Originally posted on ʿIlmprocess:

‘The same teachers who take great pride in the ethos of diversity and egalitarianism will also insist on the existence of an orthodoxy in Islam and the need for unity and uniformity. The orthodoxy is represented not only by a set of basic and common theological beliefs but also by a quite specific and detailed set of laws. So, for example, the question of whether women may lead prayer or whether women must cover their hair will often be declared closed to discussion or study. Often, the very same teachers who lectured on the doctrines of accessibility, egalitarianism and diversity will lecture endlessly about the dangers of bidaʿ (innovations), fitan (sin. Fitnah, discord or divisiveness) and the evils of intellectualism and theological disputations (ʿilm al-kalām).

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