(image posted at www.tokyogreenspace.com)
An earlier comment by my dear friend “esque” has made me realize that I need to clarify terms central to Jewish Philosophy Place (JPP).
These terms are: “space,” “place,” and “world.”
“esque” had this to say about my earlier post entitled “World” with its reference to my mother’s trip to India and my brother’s domicile in Japan. He wrote: “To want ‘the world’ to make a mark is not to do anything ordinary; it is to lionize the extraordinary by assuming that only the antipode to one’s current form of life is Real and can give inner life.”
It was certainly not my intent to go to the “east” in order to look for religious “authenticity.” It just happens to be that my mother is travelleing right now in India and my brother lives in Tokyo. If it wasn’t clear, my mother proudly has no “inner life” and did not go to India in search of one. Her interest in temples, temples, temples is purely antiquarian, historical, and aesthetic. My brother’s long term sojourn in Japan has to do with his husband, who was born there, wanting to reconnect with his family after many years in the States. Like my mother’s, his world-place is profoundly secular, and has nothing to do with “the extraordinary” or “the Real” or, again, anything having to do with “an inner life.”
So then, in what way and why did and do I want to invoke “the world” in JPP?
“Space” and “place” are not identical. In this, I’m following Yi-Fu Tuan in Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience.
“Space” refers to a more unbounded experience of the world at large. These are not absolute categories. Space is simply the space or any space that is larger than “place.” In my usage, world-space is secular. (I don’t even want to call it a construct). I mean it to be global. It has to be in order for it to be shared by different types of people. It relates to the physical or to the social, not to cult and metaphysics.
“Place” refers to a more bounded, buffered, and even private experience of the world. It refers to micro, miniaturized spheres and orbs (as per Sloterdijk). Religion is one such kind of place. It nestles into the world. But not every place is religious. Many of the “places” dear to me are secular (e.g. the modern university, the Metropolitan Museum of Art). So religion shapes my “place” in space. There’s not a lot I can do about this. But I definitely don’t want the world to be religious, even if, metaphysically, I’m very open to the speculation or fancy that space is nestled into place qua God.
Part of the argument I want to make in JPP is that Judaism and Jewish culture already inhabit a larger “world-space.” I wish the same was true of Jewish religion, religious thought, and philosophy. They have yet to catch up. I would like to think that a larger and more capacious experience of “space” allows Jewish religion, religious thought, and philosophy to construct a more felicitous “place” by moving out of and back into religion. Maybe I’m just fooling myself, which is a risk I take.
Sorry for the confusion and thanks for the pushback, “esque.”