Buddha and The Bodhi

Kern history of Buddhism

When I was in graduate school in Duke University’s Literature Program from 1987-1991, discussion and study of postmodernism was all the rage. It helped that the Program’s director, Fredric Jameson, was then in the process of composing his own magnum opus on the topic. This focus on postmodernism necessarily entailed study and discussion of modernism, modernization, and modernity as well. One of the books, actually originally published in 1983, that I remember a number of grabbing up and reading at the time was Stephen Kern’s, The Culture of Time and Space, essentially a study of the transformation of the experiences of time and space among Europeans and Americans (from the US) in the period from 1880 to 1918, traced through developments in science, technology, philosophy, the social sciences, and the arts. Recently I returned to Kern’s book in order to regain my bearings in this period, which is a critical one for the book project I’ve resumed on writers of immanence in the River Plate region of South America (Uruguay and Argentina, especially Buenos Aires and Montevideo) in the first half of the 20th century. Unlike many works that circulated in the heyday of the postmodernism debate of the late 80s, I suspect, Kern’s book has aged well. Kern, a historian now at Ohio State University, tells a compelling, readable, and originally and lucidly organized history of a sea change in conceptions of time and space that affected the material and cultural environment as well as everyday consciousness.

Kern organizes his book into two main parts, one devoted to time and one devoted to space. Sandwiched between them, as a transition, is a chapter on speed. The book concludes with two chapters examining first, the July Crisis of 1914 that led to the outbreak of World War I and then the Great War itself from the vantage point of these transformations in time and space. The “Time” part of the book is divided into four chapters: “The Nature of Time, ” “The Past, ” “The Present, ” and “The Future.” The “Space” part of the book is likewise divided into four chapters: “The Nature of Space, ” “Form, ” “Distance, ” and “Direction.” I’m a sucker for neat organizational schemas, though in my own hands they frequently suggest an premature schematization of my materials and thinking, particularly an inadequate attention to the details of those materials that might disrupt the schema. But this isn’t the case, I found, in Kern’s book, where the well thought, informed plan usefully places a great range of heterogeneous materials under a set of illuminating lenses, while helping Kern to avoid repeating discussions of his central concepts.

You might also like
History Project on Buddhism
History Project on Buddhism
History of Bon Buddhism - Part 1.mov
History of Bon Buddhism - Part 1.mov

Literary ties between Sri Lanka and China  — The Island.lk
It gives me a great pleasure to make a presentation at this august forum attended by some distinguished visitors from the Peoples' Republic of China, including Ms. Mo Ying of Beijing International Book Fair Management Office, writers such as Mr.

Related Posts