Morton on Buddhophobia

Did I spell that right? For someone who moved to SoCal and rolls his eyes at any hint of New Age Religion, Morton’s posts are always a nice read to think again about Buddhism. (Would it be the same, Tim, though, as homophobia? I’ll submit that there’s a lot of unthinking rejection of Buddhism, as opposed to the unthinking un-rejection of Islam or homosexuality, but power does matter here. Again, though, point taken.) Here’s Morton’s own words:

Buddhaphobia, like homophobia, is the fascination with and fear of something that is already profoundly, intimately “in your face.” Something unconditional. Something that’s just there. It’s the fear of an open-ended subjectivity, if you like, or if you don’t like, an object-like entity that withdraws from access. In psychoanalysis it’s called narcissism. And you need it to have good relationships with yourself and with others.

The ultimate refuge of the narcissistic personality—that is, someone whose narcissism is wounded—is the accusation that the other is narcissistic. Like the person who says “I don’t like bullies” and then proceeds to bully you, the wounded narcissist is obsessed with pointing out the other’s narcissism.

A fundamentalist recently told my Lutheran pastor sister in law that Buddhism was “self-centered” while Christianity was “Christ-centered.” I rest my case. Hegel’s nightmare of Buddhism is a statue of a baby sucking its toe. (Actually this is a Hindu image, but he was so blinded by his obsession with A=A or the narcissism of the other that I guess he didn’t check.)

What this adds up to is the usual orientalist racism that “Asians” are “inscrutable.” How dare those Buddha statues not look at me directly? How dare they turn their eyes downward, as if inward? Is it secretly conspiring against me? Is it a faceless, desireless automaton?

I think the last paragraph gets to the point: it’s the old Orientalism (mirrored in hate/fetish) that is salient.