Cover Illustration: Yoga 2.0
Matthew Remski and Scott Petrie
Transmission and practice in the age of propagation
BY MAGAZINE EDITOR SUSAN MAIER-MOUL
Why this mala form? Because for us inquiry is like prayer unfolding its meaning over countless varying repetitions. The mala is an insight machine, an abacus to multiply fascinations.
Yoga 2.0 is a long overdue steampunk yoga interface for contemporary culture. Don’t bother finding a quiet corner. Open Yoga 2.0 wherever you find yourself – subway, grocery line, or traffic jam – and practice a svadyaya immersed in the full cry of life. Written in a mala of 108 beads, Yoga 2.0 is a sutra-style performance of philosophy, a practice catharsis. Authors Matthew Remski and Scott Petrie are twenty-first century yoga-breathing sons of Deleuze and Guattari and Gabrielle Roth.
What is Yoga 2.0?
The rubric of 2.0 lies in iterative culture – situated in the present rather than pointing to the past for its authority or right to exist.
Yoga 1.0 is history. It is a book on the shelf, and perhaps a lecture talking about the book. [A book] read through our own fantasy of some lost tradition that has complete answers to mock our ignorance.
The past, the authors say, is indifferent to the quest or thirst of the householder living in its dusty judgment at the end of time. Yoga 2.0 by contrast, is hive mind: interactive, generative and collaborative. It’s practice that’s alive with magic, psychic healing and community survival, “the willful imitation of nature for the purpose of bonding with and extracting its powers.”
Dancing at the edges of the light
This slim dense volume, the first mala in the Yoga 2.0 series, is subtitled “Shamanic Echoes.” Remski and Petrie reclaim prayer from the supplication of the remote divine (which they dismiss as a “species of boundary”) and return it to (or, appropriate it for) the privilege of
dialogue between the known and the unknown.
[Prayer] establishes understanding across the boundaries of species and between the animate and the inanimate.
Their book’s form is faithful to their content: their prose style is both rave and vocoder, a sincere reflection that’s also wary of the distortion sincerity can impose. The authors take their education off the hook along with their practice. What good are all these ideas, they seem to say, if the only place they function is in an airtight graduate studies chamber where no one would dare to question their relevance to food or sex or life and death?
2.0 shreds the illusory veils between east and west, and between past and present, between science and spirituality, and between yoga and any other form of intensive inquiry.
We would argue that the greatest irreverence to yoga is to leave any dogma, conscious or unconscious unchallenged.
As a concept, Yoga 2.0 refers to an entire indie culture of practitioners, of which Remski and Petrie’s writing is a trace and a beckoning.
Signs of life in the bush of ghosts
“Shamanic Echoes” offers four padas of inquiry that bubble around cultural references like a playlist on shuffle: evolutionary biology, the bicameral mind, orality, and “the postmodern body.” Remski’s and Petrie’s threads gather the jazz rhythms and parcour energy of these sliding beads, amplifying the buzz of creativity, the hum of life in their questions and unabashed myth-making.
The authors offer no apologies for taking their encounter with life as their own property, from which they are free to construct, destroy, infer and propagate world views and shamanic theory:
These meditations are speculative, and as eccentric as our lives have been. To generate them, we’ve combined: 30 years of yoga practice, two graduate degrees and two unfinished bachelor’s degrees, a few years in ashrams, two long-term partnerships and many briefer affairs, parenting, psychotherapy, thousands of hours of teaching asana, thousands of hours of facilitating group learning in yoga philosophy and vidya, thousands of hours trying to organize yoga community, and the brightest jewels of a thousand books – all to whelp a mashed-up prayer of confused wonder.
Remski and Petrie propose the ideas we are left with after experiences and education are as important and perhaps more vital than the signification of footnoted quotes, the hissing corrections of academics.
We try to apply language poetically and entertainingly where clarity is difficult or impossible to achieve. The text is therefore laced with artha vada: the illustrative hyperbole characteristic of oral traditions.
Explaining why they’ve left their Sanskrit terms untranslated and without diacritics, the authors argue it is time to seize transmission back from those who make the approach to Sanskrit impenetrable, rendering it “alienating to the common reader.” It’s better to hear sanskrit with others, try it out in community where the power of speech trumps the barriers of authority.
The shakti of sanskrit exists in the breath of its own oral transmission, not in the corpse of its written form.
In the middle of the road you see the darndest things
Remski and Petrie shouldn’t have to work this hard. Their work should not be saddled with representing the entire indie core of practice. Yoga 2.0 is a manifesto. It needs playmates, and it deserves other artists as collaborators.
Read it, pass it around. Whether you hate or love or love/hate Yoga 2.0, you should light all your candles, burn enough incense to make your eyes water, and drop into the sweatiest holotropic breathing technique you’ve got: then write a response, call your tribe, or lose your cool.
Your practice doesn’t have to howl, but it should have a pulse say poet philosphers Matthew Remski and Scott Petrie, a thudding rebellion or a tender wonder with the mystery of fire, the bond of blood and the dance of the moon in it.
You can buy Yoga 2.0 at the Yoga 2.0 website
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.