The Nature of Yoga – Spirituality, Ideology and Vilém Flusser

Dr. Anita Jóri
The Nature of Yoga – Spirituality, Ideology and Vilém Flusser

Seminar, English/Deutsch, 2 SWS, 2 ECTS
Wednesdays, 10-14 h, bi-weekly, 8 dates: 16.10., 30.10., 13.11., 27.11., 11.12.2019, 8.1., 22.1., 5.2.2020,
Grunewaldstr. 2-5, Vilém Flusser Archiv, room 208

"Yoga" is practiced in crowded yoga and fitness studios and also taught in schools and kindergartens. Also, people want to escape from the rush of their everyday lives and calm their minds down at yoga retreats and meditation centers. But what is yoga really about; and how did this current yoga boom happen, including its economic implications?
This seminar takes a closer look at the historical, philosophical and cultural background of the practice of yoga. By reading early texts of Yoga Philosophy (e.g. Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali, Hatha Yoga Pradīpikā), we will also see that there is no evidence in the Hindu tradition for the fitness-oriented posture (asana) practice that dominates the contemporary global yoga scene (Singleton 2010).
Among many other fields of study, the philosopher and cultural theorist Vilém Flusser (1920–1991) also showed a great interest in Indian Philosophy, especially during his years in Brazil. In his second book “The History of the Devil”, originally written in German in 1958 and published in Portuguese in 1965, Flusser argues that science in Europe and North America “pretends to dismiss Yoga”. He also tries to illustrate what “Western science” could learn from Yoga Philosophy and create new methodologies with the help of it.
Following these arguments, Flusser also denies the nature–culture dualism and states that the very idea of nature is a lie. According to him, “the whole world, nature and mind, are nothing but creations of Ātman” (Flusser 2014), the true self or soul that is the spiritual essence in all creatures in Yoga Philosophy.
Based on the above-mentioned philosophical readings, we will try to trace back the nature of Yoga and discuss the ethical and moral consequences of the current hype around it, including postcolonial perspectives.
The outcome of the seminar will be presented in the frames of transmediale festival’s Vorspiel Program weitere Infos siehe:

Singleton, Mark: Yoga Body. The Origins of Modern Posture Practice. Oxford University Press, 2010
Flusser, Vilém: The History of the Devil. Trans. Novaes, R. M. Minneapolis: Univocal, 2014

Requirements for the ungraded Studium Generale credit: The participants of the seminar are asked to read different texts for each seminar session and to hold presentations.

Ausrichtung der Veranstaltung: interkulturell, kritisch
Kompetenz/Aktivität der Teilnehmenden: wahrnehmen, reflektieren/denken

Anita Jóri, is a research assistant at the Vilém Flusser Archive, Berlin University of the Arts (since October 1, 2016). In 2010 she finished her master studies in history, pedagogy and applied linguistics at Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest, HU). In 2017, she finished her PhD thesis “The discourse community of electronic dance music”. During her studies she received different scholarships in Prague, Vilnius, and Berlin. Earlier as a research assistant at the University of Pécs (HU) and Macromedia University of Applied Sciences (Berlin), Anita Jóri took part in different research projects. Moreover, she was a lecturer in media studies (2013–16) of the study programme “Communication in Social and Economic Contexts” (seminar title: “Visual and Artifact Analysis through the example of Electronic Music“) at the Berlin University of the Arts. She gained her first work experience at the Vilém Flusser Archive as a scholarship holder of “Erasmus+” (2011/2012), later as a project coordinator of the "Vilém Flusser Residency Program for Artistic Research" in cooperation with "transmediale“, festival for art and digital culture (Berlin). As a linguist, she is interested in Flusser’s early works on language and language philosophy, in particular his structural (intercultural) analysis of languages and language families.