This talk aims to uncover a pattern of encounters East/West by looking at biographical and ideological lines that cross and fertilize each other in many ways. This may result in very creative and productive encounters, which might change consciousness or lead to more reflectivity, but also in ideological abuse or simply misunderstanding. I shall be concerned with intellectuals and spiritual seekers like C.G. Jung, Rabindranath Tagore, Mme Blavatsky, Sri Aurobindo, Mira Alfassi, Alexandra David-Néel, Savitra Nevi, the Beatles, Lafcadio Hearn et al. Among them we shall find forgers, frauds and fortune-seekers, as well as mystics, impressionists and thinkers, or ideologists and fascists. The focus will be on encounters between the West and China, Tibet, Japan and India during the 19th and 20th centuries. Eventually the outlines of a map may appear that will show the extent to which the ‚East‘ and the ‚West‘ are parts of a great work of fiction.
Elmar Schenkel has been Chair of British Literature at the University of Leipzig until 2019. He is also a writer, translator and artist. His research interests focus on the relationship between science, religion and literature. Recent books include Keplers Dämon – Wechselbeziehungen zwischen Literatur, Traum und Wissenschaft (S. Fischer 2016), Transsilvanien Express (Hamouda 2017) and Anruf aus der Kreidezeit – Aphorismen und andere Alphornissen (Isele 2019).