ABSTRACTS no. 19

 

DENIS JEFFREY
RELIGION AND POSTMODERNISM : AN IDENTITY PROBLEM

Entering the third millennium, we have a strange notion of religion. The problem seems simple enough : we no longer know how to speak about religion. In the modern age, it seems to have become something forbidden, to be avoided. We seem to have renounced religion in the modern era. However, religion remains the most important arena in terms of the search for meaning as well as for the management of existential problems. This discreet and restless religion, practised on the fringes of the large institutions, has a personal touch. It is thus useful, in order to understand the present vagabond nature of present-day religiosity, to pay more attention to the personal religion of our contemporaries. In this regard, it is in the spirit of religious postmodernism that we engage in this study of a personal religiosity which, if we may say so, has not yet been formally considered and developed.

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ROGER LUSSIER
STRIKING DEATH.
A POSTMODERNIST ANALYSIS OF FUNERAL RITES

Western modernism has contributed to a profound transformation of attitudes regarding death. Death having been "tamed", for the most part, during the more traditional periods of our history, we have now moved on to the "denial" of death in this present century. Rituals associated with death are becoming more simplified, privatised, technical, professional, are changing location and form, even being reduced to the simplest level of expression. If these characteristics of modern death are still largely found in the present-day rituality of funerals, certain other events lead us to believe that our attitude toward death may well be undergoing some transformation : biodegradable coffins made of recycled paper ; funeral urns in the shape of familiar objects ; thematic and even virtual cemeteries &emdash; all signs of a rapid and profound transformation of the rites associated with death. Contemporary funeral rites have less and less in common with the traditional : they are more and more eclectic, often translating into new and varying sets of values ; in short, they form a vision of a re-enchanted world. Are these signs of a new attitude towards death ? Might we name this increase in the value of death a movement towards what we call postmodernism ?

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JULIE COLPRON
SAMSâRA : A POSTMODERN VISION OF BUDDHISM ?

The birth of a magazine such as Samsâra bears witness to an infatuation with traditional oriental religions, more specifically Buddhism, whose popularity seems to be growing. This article attempts to delimit the new forms of Buddhism re-read &emdash; "translated", we could say &emdash; by the western styles of discourse and codes. More precisely, we wish to show how this magazine manifests many of the characteristics of our contemporary culture, which may be highlighted by applying to it a "postmodernist analytical grid". This object can not escape the postmodern project and, without overstating the ruptures caused by modernism, it remains that the Buddhism presented in this magazine no longer has any affiliation with its original doctrine.

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CHARLES GAGNÉ
A POSTMODERN HERO ?
AN INTERPRETATION OF THE HEROIC CAMPBELLIAN FIGURE
WITHIN THE YOUTH
CULTURE

The media constantly present us the new faces and symbols of the present-day cultural movements. Certain of these movements disappear rapidly, others leave imprints and become the new heroes of our time. These hero-idols have a considerable impact on the identity and on the values of their "fans". How can we explain this impact ? The "theory of the hero" from Joseph Campbell's mythology, in light of the postmodern hypothesis, points us in an interesting direction in this regard. While following the same standard itinerary as traditional heroes, considered as creators or sources of inspiration of a meta-narrative, the "new heroes" have undergone major transformations in terms of their role, their visibility and their acceptance. The exemplary and constructive hero, the companion of established order, has now become transient and tribal, which reflects quite well the postmodern sensibility.

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CHRISTINE PINA
LADY DI AND MOTHER TERESA : TWO CATHODIC SAINTS ?

In September 1997, our televisions offered us two important shows : on the one hand Lady Di's funeral, dead in an accident, the symbol of an opulent and speed-obsessed society ; on the other hand, Mother Teresa's burial, deceased after long years of work in India, beside the poorest of the poor. Comparing these two events, these two high mass-type events, could seem strange : what do a princess and a little sister lost in shantytowns have in common ? Analysis of the funerals helps us to find similarities and to understand modern western society : the importance of the media, and the crowning achievement of television, which transmits the illusion that there is planetary communion ; the desire to be bound to other human beings during a ceremony, during a mass ; the coronation of the stars and the erecting of modern myths, able to create social links around a shared passion, a shared pain.

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EVE PAQUETTE
VAMPIRE FICTION,
FROM BRAM STOKER'S "XENOPHOBIA" TO ANNE RICE'S "MYSTICISM".
A CASE OF TRANSITION INTO POSTMODERNITY

The most popular vampires of literary fiction, created by Bram Stoker or Anne Rice, are undergoing the impact of postmodernism. The changes which are affecting the religious domain now permit us to consider vampires as fully-fledged religious objects. In fact, the distinctiveness which they incarnate, albeit somewhat menacing during the modern period, has become a kind of object of worship, of fascination and of ritual. The role of the cinema in this transformation can not be ignored. However, it is the novelist Anne Rice who permitted vampires to fully enter into postmodernism. By lending them a voice as well as human desires, without in any way diminishing their supernatural character, she has made vampires sympathetic. The characteristics attributed to these figures make them into intense, immense and, most of the time... politically correct beings.

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YVES BOISVERT
IS ETHICS THE NEW CIVIL "RELIGIO", AT THE SERVICE OF DEMOCRACY ?

This presentation, from a postmodernist viewpoint, attempts to perceive how contemporary ethics develops within a political perspective, as an advocate of democracy. In this sense, it will attempt to demonstrate how the development of this new cultural and ethical tendency fits within the re-deployment scheme of dynamic social links and non-state controlled politics. We might even assert that this new ethical vitality is a precursor to the strengthening of our democratic regimes, since this ethics assumes the same strategic function as Tocqueville attributed to religion in the young American democracy of the early nineteenth century.

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ROBERT VERREAULT
CONFUSION AND DISENCHANTMENT :
MODERNITY, POSTMODERNITY AND THE CONSPIRATION THEORIES

Hundreds of organizations, among which are the paramilitary and which favour the dismemberment of the centralized State, have appeared in the United States in recent years. Does the concept of postmodernism permit an understanding of this phenomenon ? These groups, which are often situated on the boundary between the religious and the political, seem to be part of an even greater movement, which has developed a profound lack of confidence in modern institutions and sometimes in modern values. Further, this movement produces eloquent narratives which gravitate around the theme of "hidden truth" and from which supernatural beings are not always excluded.

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LAWRENCE OLIVIER
THE POSTMODERNIST HYPOTHESIS REGARDING THE "RE-DEPLOYMENT OF VALUES" : TRANSCENDENCE AND SOCIAL ORDER

This paper takes seriously the postmodern hypothesis that a "re-enchantment of the world" is once again possible. Without wishing to discuss the possible forms such a "return of the sacred" might take, we wish to examine this return and to question in doing so this new importance of the sacred &emdash; or rather the new interest which it has generated. What possible importance could it have today for certain persons to discover, or to wish for, the return of certain values ? What need is being filled by the sacred in the activity of living-together ? In order to arrive at some elements of an answer to these questions, the author wishes to make the following proposition : the need for transcendence (for the sacred) rests on a very specific conception of the relationship between necessity and contingency, as though one were in opposition to the other and, based on this opposition, it were possible to establish a living-together.

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GEORGES TISSOT
THE IMAGINARY IDENTITY

"Ultramodernism seeks to take the field of hermeneutics by force, by reducing to scientific status (as described by the paragons of the new cognitive sciences) all questioning which is related to the foundations of knowing and, consequently, to the type of questioning which makes reference to the institutional". The work of Pierre Legendre deals with the field of "dogmatic anthropology" : to search for the representations of the basic elements of existence of the subject : giving direction to the "absolute, symbolic Other : this figure of negativity". One task is to question the traditional mythological construction, as well as the rational ultramodern construction, of the world order. Thus we examine here P. Legendre's propositions, while engaging in a critical allusion to the development of a new anthropology.

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CHARLES J. SABATINO
A CORRELATION BETWEEN HEIDEGGER'S BEING-IN-THE-WORLD
AND MASAO ABE'S PRATITYA SAMUTPADA

Heidegger's understanding of Being-in-the-World and Masao Abe's interpretation of the notion of Pratitya Samutpada converge at several points. Each understands human being not as centred upon the individual, but as centred and participating within a larger context than the individual. Heidegger's understanding of authenticity as arising with the awareness of dying relates to the Buddhist notion that all things are impermanent. Also, the manner in which authenticity involves responsibility and guilt relates to the Buddhist understanding that we are fundamentally co-responsible for one another and the world we share.

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