Speculative Non-Buddhism was founded in May 2011. Since then, we have published over 100 long-form essays and 7,000+ comments, many of them quite substantial in their own right. We have attracted well over half a million views and nearly 1000 subscribers…and counting. We have been discussed and criticized in scholarly journals and books and in popular podcasts and magazine articles. We have agitated or inspired several blogs and numerous blog posts. We have even catalyzed a few books. And we have had an impact, for better or worse, on the discourse (and actual vocabulary) of Western Buddhism. Why such a response? I believe that one explanation is this: we touch a nerve, or a place of emotional and institutional sensitivity, that the Buddhist culture at large is unaware even exists.
From its inception the blog has been intended as a warehouse of critical and constructive tools. The tools are intended to be used for speculation on Buddhism, or, more properly, on what I call “non-buddhism.” My hope is that some readers will use these tools to craft new ideas concerning Buddhism’s maturation, rupture, and disruption on the current North American and European scenes. To state it more bluntly, I hope these tools prove useful to you as you sift through the ruins of the dilapidated latter-day fortress of what most people refer to as “Buddhism” or “Western Buddhism, and I call x-buddhism. Who knows what treasures you may find? As we like to say around here, our ruin is ruin because of treasure.
But I am getting ahead of myself. This blog neither takes for granted the salubrity of Buddhist teachings for the contemporary world nor forecloses on the possibility of adaptation, renovation, and application. It sees in the very questioning of tradition a speculative opportunity. The approach taken here does risk destruction. For that reason, the blog is outré in mainstream x-buddhist circles. So, why take such an approach? In short, because, like the Buddha, I still believe in the possibility of something like human liberation.
Posts fall under one or more category. Here’s a screenshot from the dropdown menu at the upper right corner of the blog:
Most of those categories are self-explanatory. Still, it should be kept in mind that even “Creative Writing” is creative writing that hews closely to the aims and interests of the blog. Same for “Conversation.” “Criticism” is a piece that highlights some feature of thought or practice and points out its problems in terms of, for instance, conceptualization, ideological opaqueness, covert values, and so on. “Critique” is a piece that does that as well but also offers ways around the problems. “Event” means an announcement of some relevant meeting, seminar, or even publication. It also captures posts that ask questions of readers, like “how would the Buddha vote??” “Buddhofiction,” means a piece that uses or proposes using x-buddhist materials in same way that will seem quixotic to a convicted practitioner. At present, the blog probably has only one “pure” buddhofiction (“Sutras of Flesh and Blood“). Several posts, however, make bold moves in that direction (see “Sitting, Full of Shit“). A post might be tagged with several categories. “Traumatized By Toast,” for example, offers a review of The Trauma of Everyday Life, by Mark Epstein, as well as serious criticism of many of the notions found in the book, plus, valuable ways to rethink those notions.
About the blogger
My name is Glenn Wallis. I have been an observer of Buddhism in North America and practitioner of Buddhist-style meditation since 1975. As you will gather from the blog, however, I am not a “Buddhist” of any sort. I have written several books and articles on various aspects of Buddhism, including, most recently, A Critique of Western Buddhism: Ruins of the Buddhist Real. You can find further information about my work at my website.
More recently, I have found the entire Buddhist project fruitlessly tedious. (And I felt this long before it limped its way into the current New Age desert of mindfulness, wellness, positivity, and yoga culture.) I’ve been asking myself this galvanizing question: what might happen if I were to take seriously the Buddha’s admonishment to “cast aside the raft” and “leave the collapsed house in shambles”? In thought, in relations, in life, what might happen?
One thing that has happened is that the very notion of “practice” has been, and still is being, conceived. I founded Incite Seminars in Philadelphia to foster this conception of practice. The work of this blog is thus closely tied to the educational work.
Please consider supporting Speculative Non-Buddhism and Incite Seminars by becoming a patron at Patreon. Interested? Read more about it!
Since founding Speculative Non-Buddhism in 2011, I have been fortunate to be joined by others. Please visit the Authors page for more information.