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A Pandeistic Universe

Knujon Mapson Author Interview

Knujon Mapson Author Interview

Pandeism: An Anthology is a collection of work from different authors that seeks to provide intellectual backing to the idea of pandeism. Why was this an important book for you to put together?

Pandeism is a pretty old idea, but is one which has very long been little known — discussed almost exclusively in scholarly and academic settings, and usually in a sort of abstract and theoretical way. Perhaps that will always be its primary locus of discussion, but as scientific knowledge comes to match up better and better with a pandeistic Universe, it would be a wonderful thing for people to be made aware that this possibility is out there. And as the Anthology writings show, it has proved itself worthy of consideration from many angles.

There is surely some long-term gain to be realized, as well, from a world wherein people generally understand that all things are part of our Creator, and all life ought to be accorded the respect due to even a fragment of our Creator. And even as Pandeists bear no club with which to threaten ‘disbelievers’ with eternal torment or the like, imagine how you might react if you felt there was a possibility — a reasonably high probability even — that if ours were a created Universe at all, then it would be the sort of Universe in which your own actions towards others (and, more largely writ, everybody else’s actions towards everybody else) directly dictated the experiences which would be had by your Creator; and not only by your Creator but quite possibly by every entity ever existing — including yourself, to some immeasurable extent, all of these being your Creator, which has momentarily (for perhaps just a few hundred billion years) become fragmented apart. If there is any possibility that we are creating experiences to be shared with by our Creator, ought we not by this knowledge to be motivated to create positive experiences, for ourselves, and for one another?

And though all of these are, in my view, respectable reasons for my advocacy and regular formulation of new arguments, the simple truth is that I love the idea for its elegance, for its simplicity, for the strength of its explanatory power wrapped in extrapolations from a few simple assumptions of logical necessity. And so I want to pull it down from the academic tower and present it in ways suitable for a larger slice of the world to get to grasp it.

You work with sixteen authors on this anthology. How did this book come together and what was it like working with so many bright writers?

As to how it all came about, I first began putting together the ideas for a book on the topic some thirteen years ago. I always knew that I wanted to write about Pandeism, and I researched intensely, and found other people who had written on the topic and in the area. I never intended to do an anthology, but as I worked on my own book, it seemed to just get more and more sprawling. I was trying to grasp in all of the ideas that I could possibly cover, and it was more than I could do. And then, at some point, I simply threw my hands up and decided that it was not something that I would ever be able to finish.

But, as I pored over the many writings which I had accumulated in the area overtime, and the connections I had made with people who write in this area, I was struck by the fact that I might well be able to assemble enough to make a book that captured many of the ideas that I wished to express, but which had already been put into words in other ways by other people. And once I had had that realization, the whole structure of the book, the give and take and opposing viewpoints and variety of possible approaches simply came together, almost instantaneously. I immediately knew, for example, that I wanted to have poems punctuated the sections, and to divide the book in the general sort of way in which it ended up, and I am tremendously gratified with the result.

One of the most remarkable experiences and joys of my life has been working with these authors. I ought to mention that two of the writers were deceased — one, nearly one hundred years before, and the other just a few years ago, a good friend who I had been in communication with and who had written his piece for me before his quite untimely death, years before I ever knew I was going to assemble an anthology. But as to all the rest, every one of them was note only a unique and powerfully thoughtful and excellent to communicate with, but remains a friend. Really, it is like we are a family of fellow travelers along the same route. There are several of them who I bounce ideas off of frequently.

The book is separated into three sections, the fundamentals of Pandeism, philosophical implications, and criticism from other views. Why was it important to include alternate analysis of pandeism?

Most works on a specific theological point of view are told from the proposition of that view being true. And indeed, even anthologies written within specific faiths tend often to be single-minded collections of endorsements of that faith. There is something about such an approach which instead rings untrue to me — if your belief system is so ironclad, why only present one side of it? And yet we know there are those who dispute the truth of every theological model, so why not present their arguments directly and let the reader choose who has made more sense? Why collect an anthology at all if all the views provided assume the same position?

If we only present arguments favoring Pandeism, or even present only one view of Pandeism, then we are doing the readers a disservice. It is not the sort of position which can be insisted to be true in a gnostic sense. It is one logical possibility out of a field of them, with certain points of logical appeal, but at the same time with an acknowledged impossibility of knowing the truth of it. And even if there are those who believe that it is untrue, it presents a paradigm which they must contend with. Neither Atheism nor any Theistic faith can escape the intellectual obligation to confront the possibility of this model, and when they do so, and commit to it in a serious way, some great and deep writing is bound to result from this.

What do you hope readers take away from Pandeism: An Anthology?

Well, firstly I really hope that readers take away the sense that Pandeism, as a theological model, is indeed a serious possibility. And secondly, I hope to just really make people think about all the possibilities that are out there, and the fact that there are indeed so many possibilities which are unknown. I want readers to feel a bit challenged and a bit enlightened and more than a bit informed. One thing, I think, about this book, with its breadth of authors and approaches from diverse and sometimes opposing viewpoints, is that it is impossible to read it through without learning something of interest, something which will stay with you for the rest of your life thereafter. I hope that readers take away a lot of feelings like that, and that every reader takes away at least something like that.

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Pandeism: An Anthology presents the work of sixteen authors, new and old, examining the implications of the revolutionary evolutionary theological theory of Pandeism – the proposition that the Creator of our Universe created by becoming our Universe, and that this proposition can be demonstrated through the exercise of logic and reason. These authors present a wide range of views originating from their varied experiences, from professional theologians and religious educators to lay philosophers with PhDs in the hard sciences. Collectively, these authors have assembled the most extensive examination of Pandeism put to print in over a hundred years.

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Why, Anyway, Do We Quote?

Ruth Finnegan Author Interview

Ruth Finnegan Author Interview

Quoting was something I didn’t even think about until I read Why Do We Quote. What made you realize quoting would be such a rich topic for a book?

Nor did most people!

Not sure. It just crept up on me and once I’d got started colleagues were very very puzzled -well in a way I was too – about what on earth there was to say about quoting. Onced it was published it was published everyoed said they’d been interested in quoting it all along!,

To elaborate, and as I explain in the Preface, until this book somehow crept under my guard I hadn’t thought I was much interested in quoting or quotation: something to be deployed with care in some settings, no doubt, but not a thing to be investigated. Certainly I had learned to use quote marks at school and later to wield quotations in academic writing, and had become aware of copyright obligations and the current concerns about plagiarism and about unauthorised words floating free on the web. I was also vaguely aware that words and voices from elsewhere ran through what I said, I read them in books, recognised them in formal speeches, heard them in conversation. But I had just come to accept this as part of common practice, not anything to be really noticed, far less to arouse particular curiosity.

As I thought about it, I realised how little I knew about quoting and quotation. What does it mean, this strange human propensity to repeat chunks of text from elsewhere and to echo others’ voices? How does it work and where did it come from? Does it matter? Why, anyway, do we quote?

I started by reflecting more carefully on my own experience and was startled by how quoting permeated my world. And then I wondered how others were using, or not using, quotation both nearby and in far away times and places. On some aspects I found a vast and fascinating literature. But there seemed no single account that directly tackled my questions about just what ‘quotation’ and ‘quoting’ were, how we had got to where we now are, and how in practice these had been used and conceptualised. This led me to considering how people here and now actually use quotation (in practice, that is, not just according to the grammar books) and also, going on from that, whether we might understand these present practices better by exploring something of their background and whether the problems currently causing concern belong just to the 20th and 21st centuries, or perhaps have longer roots.

And then? Well, I just couldn’t help writing It! Took longer than I expected, with part of the fun being finding illustrations (yes IMAGES are part of the story). I’d say it is my best academic book, perhaps alog with Communicating to which is it in a way linked (I leave out my novels like Black Inked Pearl).

Did you learn anything that surprised you about quoting while you prepared this book?

YES, and was amazed: about (many) people’s ACTUAL perspectives be on quoting -regarding it as a way of ‘showing’ off: showing off the quoter’s supposedly superior learning or status, putting you down. I was stunned. As an academic had always assumed that (properly attributed) quotation was unquestionably a Good Thing. It would never never have occurred to me without the extensive comments from the wonderful ‘Mass-Observation’ writers (results of this and other enquiries conducted and housed under the auspices of the University of Sussex (www.massobs.org.uk/).

With this book you shed new light on ideas such as ‘imitation’, ‘allusion’, ‘authorship’, ‘originality’ and ‘plagiarism’. How has quoting changed those ideas?

Mainly I think that I now realise how these concepts shade into each other and overlap (there is a stunning diagram at the start by Mark Cain showing this – and more) . Also how they are ALL socially managed and controlled in some way, and how the telling-off for ‘plagiarism’ of students and other ‘subordinate’ individuals is partly an exercise of power. We all in a way plagiarise (ourselves among others) when – almost all of the time – we in some way allude or quote. This was a real revelation to me. Also how invisibly pervasive all these practices, and similar ones, are in our speaking and writing.

There is a lot drawn from anthropology and cultural history. Is there any one event in history that affected quoting dramatically? Or did it all happen slowly over time?

Slowly and over time I think. Quoting and quotations have been there from the very very beginning – though it’s true that some individuals and sources get quoted more than others ( or have attributed to them things they DIDN’T actually say) , like George Washington, Goethe, Disraeli, the Bible. People quote Shakespeare all the time, often without realising that it IS a quote, the words just a special ring to them – isn’t that one of the points of quoting.

And did you know that the first piece of sustained writing, four thousand or ore years ago, was a cuneiform collection of – yes – of quotations (there’s a picture of it in the book)

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Quoting is all around us. But do we really know what it means? How do people actually quote today, and how did our present systems come about? This book brings together a down-to-earth account of contemporary quoting with an examination of the comparative and historical background that lies behind it and the characteristic way that quoting links past and present, the far and the near. Drawing from anthropology, cultural history, folklore, cultural studies, sociolinguistics, literary studies and the ethnography of speaking, Ruth Finnegan’s fascinating study sets our present conventions into cross cultural and historical perspective. She traces the curious history of quotation marks, examines the long tradition of quotation collections with their remarkable cycling across the centuries, and explores the uses of quotation in literary, visual and oral traditions. The book tracks the changing defi nitions and control of quoting over the millennia and in doing so throws new light on ideas such as ‘imitation’, ‘allusion’, ‘authorship’, ‘originality’ and ‘plagiarism’.

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