The tribes of the jungles of the Indo-Malay archipelago have produced some of the most devastating systems of combat and self – defense based on hundreds of years of tribal warfare. Collectively known as Silat, these martial arts systems are generally characterized by both armed and un-armed tactics and concepts. Although in modern times some have been watered down into sports, many have kept their edge as forms of combat and self – preservation whose instructors refuse to teach them as sports.
When the term Pencak Silat is used, it refers specifically to the Indonesian systems of Silat. Likewise, the alternative spelling of Pentjak Silat refers to the Dutch-Indonesian lineages of Silat. There are literally dozens of these systems, with hundreds of sub-systems. The term Pencak Silat was first used officially on the 18th of May in 1948 at the foundation of the Indonesian Pencak Silat Association (IPSI – Ikatan Pencak Silat Indonesia). The term pencak was more common among the Javanese, whereas silat was the common term for martial practice in Sumatra, as well as Borneo. Continue reading “An Introduction to the Martial Arts of Pentjak Silat Serak and Pentjak Silat Bukti Negara”
We should be cautious of prophecies that claim that we are on a path of infinite political “progress,” infinite “economic growth,” or, conversely, headed toward civilizational collapse. Things are more complicated, and there always remains opportunities for the creation of interesting new cultural movements and for personal ascent (though perhaps not for those who are determined to fit themselves into some outdated societal mold).
A century ago, the German intellectual Oswald Spengler (1880-1936) argued that civilizations are organic, that they take root, blossom, and then whither and die. According to Spengler, the West is now in its dying phase. His thesis, however, was rebutted by another German thinker, Jean Gebser (1905-1973), who argued that human consciousness evolved through the emergence of new stages of consciousness. The previous stages remained in the psyche but were superseded. Such stages (the archaic, magic, mythical, mental, and integral) were characterized by new developments in language, art, and even in perception — hence our ability to see the color blue (something that humans have only been able to do for a few thousand years or so), and the appearance of perspective in art (which man did not understand and possibly could not really detect at one point). Continue reading “Barbarians, Gender Ambiguity, and Possibilities For a New Culture”
In Ancient Greece, music was the gift of the Muses to man. The Muses were the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, and all knowledge and art were under their dominion. They were the sponsors and protectors of mousikai, an integral part of the fabric of everyday life, which was comprised of singing and lyrics, and the Όρχισης (Orchisis)—an organized group of dancers. The term mousikai is used in order to distinguish from what today we call “music” – the science and art of organized sound.
Besides a cultural practice, mousikai was also a means to higher levels of consciousness through the art of sacred geometry, placing it in the sphere of the divine. In Greek antiquity, the Olympian god Apollo is directly connected with the Muses and with mousikai as a divine art. He is represented as their leader in dance and song, and given the epithet mousagetes (leader of the muses), as the historian Pausanias informs us in his “Description of Greece.” Continue reading “The Spiritual Meaning of Music, From Ancient Greece to Today”