When we went around in class yesterday, I was very glad and interested that the topic of religion came up. Since reading Jane Bennett’s prologue to Vibrant Matter, I was struck by the way she spoke about her theory in an almost religious-like manner. The basic foundation for vibrant materialism is that we, humans, are not the most important and that instead of the world revolving around us it revolves around all things that are equal and constantly interacting and having agency in combination with other things. In acquiring this knowledge, Bennett expects us to give respect to everything as the way we would respect another human. This particular passage stuck me most:
“the image of dead or thourougly instrumentalized matter feeds human hubris and our earth-destroying fantasies of conquest and consumption. It does so by preventing us from detecting (seeing, hearing, smelling, testing, feeling) a fuller range of nonhuman powers circulating around and within human bodies. These matierial powers, which can aid or destroy, enrich or disable, ennoble or degrade us, in any case call for our attentiveness, or even respect” (ix).
This idea reminded me very much of what I little I know about Buddhism (which Samuel affirmed for me in class yesterday) and what my yoga teachers are constantly preaching. That to be a real yogi, one must come to regard every thing that they come in contact with with equal respect, that men and women are no better than a rock and have no bigger purpose in the world. Besides using this idea to dissect agency in literature, I think it is a very revolutionary and beneficial way of looking at life. If everyone in the world thought this way there would not be holocausts and wars because people would respect the purpose of everybody, every piece of land, every piece of gold, and let it be what it is instead of trying to possess it. On a smaller scale, it is much easier to find peace with the world if you have this mentality. It goes along the “everything-happens-for-a-reason-idea”. Anyway, I am glad that someone brought up looking at these theories in connection (or in opposition) with religion and I am interested in looking more closely at the possibility it brings up.