Today, another fascinating and deeply insightful Design Matter’s conversation. This time Debbie Millman talks to philosopher and author Alain de Botton. The conversation is a wide-ranging overview of love and relationship. I’ve previously featured de Botton here, and you’ll find the Design Matters 48-minute conversation here (downloadable via iTunes). I found it really useful, and somewhat freeing, culturally speaking.
De Botton’s book The Course of Love: a novel, incorporating paragraphs (in different font) reflecting on different aspects of love and relationships) is sitting opposite me as I type. A local library copy, which I’ve dipped into but won’t get to read in full at the moment – too many other books on the go!
His earlier novel on love, funnily enough, called On Love: A Novel (1993) is well worth a read too. I’ve been really impressed with De Botton’s insights on love and relationships, all the more so, when you realise On Love: A Novel was written while in his mid-twenties (de Botton was born in December 1969).
“To be loved by someone is to realize how much they share the same needs that lie at the heart of our own attraction to them. Albert Camus suggested that we fall in love with people because, from the outside, they look so whole, physically whole and emotionally 'together' - when subjectively we feel dispersed and confused. We would not love if there were no lack within us, but we are offended by the discovery of a similar lack in the other. Expecting to find the answer, we find only the duplicate of our own problem” ― Alain de Botton, On Love.
He has a strong commitment to the development of emotional intelligence, and this is reflected in his founding of The School of Life. A site I highly recommend too.
On the first books I read this year (2017) was US Poet, Academic Elizabeth Alexander’s haunting and beautiful 2015 memoir The Light of the World, a love-story centered on her marriage to Eritrean-born Ficre Ghebreyesus, who tragically died at the age of 50, following a massive heart attack. I was deeply moved, and recovered an appreciation for a well-written memoir. Since that one I’ve read another two memoirs, both different, but each a rich insight into the lives of two people I have a very high-regard for. I think what I like about good memoirs is the way that they open up, and respond deeply to the questions of what it means to be a human being through all the seasons and experiences of a human life. I highly recommend the book, and gained much from reading it.
Aired on April 3rd 2017 Design Matters’ Debbie Millman talked to US-poet Elizabeth Alexander about the journey of her extraordinary life and how death makes us think about what we truly value. Some of you will recall that Alexander composed and read a poem for Barack Obama’s 20th January 2009 Inauguration (more on that poetic journey here. The January 2017 article also includes a link to Alexander reciting the poem on the day. In the Design Matters interview Alexander also reads her poem too. You’ll find the text of the poem Praise Song for the Day here).
"The contemporary interest in spirituality is basically good and may be a movement of the Spirit adjusting to people where they are ...
… [W]e believe, following the teaching of Vatican II, that the Spirit is working in them also. That means that the Word of God is manifesting itself in them ... and is guiding them in other ways that can become a source of grace for them. The fact that the Incarnation took place means that Christ is in relationship to every human being. Everybody is religious just by becoming born and, by that very fact, is in relationship with God. You don’t have to search for it – you are already in relationship to the Source of all…”
Sounds like an interesting book, albeit it cops some criticism from reviewers along the way, and one does wonder, why another book when similar ones exist.
“…In the end, Pilgrimage sheds sparks, rather than shards of light, over what we already know about Francis; yet it brings him into focus better than many of the weightier tomes out there. And as a readable, enjoyable, accessible portrait of an extraordinary man, it is hard to beat…” – Austen Ivereigh (full review here), author of the very good The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope, which is one of those books I’d say is similar though not identical in its focus.
“The church sex abuse crisis has rocked the faith of millions of Catholics.
A Pew study found that, in the United States alone, 40 per cent of people raised Catholic have left the church.
For one member of America’s most famous Catholic family, the crisis has been especially painful.
Mark Shriver is the nephew of JFK and the son of Sargent Shriver, a legendary humanitarian who ran the Peace Corps and the war on poverty in the 60s.
“Men of all ages say Richard Rohr has given them a new way into spiritual depth and religious thought — through his writing and retreats. This conversation with the Franciscan spiritual teacher delves into the expansive scope of his ideas: male formation and what he calls “father hunger”; why contemplation is as magnetic to people now, including millennials, as it’s ever been; and how to set about taking the first half of life — the drive to “successful survival” — all the way to meaning.”
You’ll find the On Being conversation here. Aired April 13th 2017.