Psychotropic Jewish Studies & The Contemporary Study of Jewish Religion

graatefuld dead

Polling my colleagues, asking for a friend, asking for a student, because I’m kind of curious, and of course purely for the sake of research, about the contemporary shape of the field, let’s say, after 1967. I’m genuinely wondering about either [1] the impact of taking mind altering drugs (no, not weed) upon or [2] the correlation between a propensity for this kind of experience with the direction of your academic career paths in Jewish Studies. While this is not my exclusive question, I am particularly interested if your methodological focus relates in any way to what we could reasonably fit under the category of “religion.” I was hoping for something like a “yes” or “no” answer about either kind of relation vis-a-vis your own scholarly work. Feel free to weigh in on the FB or here at blog.

For the bigger picture about Religion and the 1960/1970s, I’m thinking especially of Mark Epstein’s recent review of Why Religion: A Personal Story by Elaine Pagels which you can read here. While Pagel’s story is extra-ordinary, I doubt that in its most broad strokes it is utterly unique in the study of “Religion” or in the study of “Jewish Religion” as it emerged in the 1960s and after. I am very curious about modes of academic inquiry under any and all kinds of psychotropic influence? This question will be increasingly relevant the more and more we begin to look at the field of Jewish Studies as its own object of scholarly inquiry, and once we turn to this chapter in the history of the field.

As for me, I’ll only say that I took acid before i took to Spinoza and Nietzsche, who along with I.B Singer, were my gateway drugs into modern Jewish thought. LSD offered a view of the world, which as suggested to me by Peg Olin, is one in which shapes are highly crystallized as singularities integrated into a seemingly infinite and interconnected multi-verse just on the other side of conventional consciousness.

 

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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1 Response to Psychotropic Jewish Studies & The Contemporary Study of Jewish Religion

  1. Abram Epstein says:

    No. Lots of pot. Great hashish. Friends who never made it back from Lucy in the Sky. But Kabbalah with Aryeh had me higher than breeyah.

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