“Although film is now part of the repertoire for many present-day philosophy educators, the cinema has not always been trusted by those handling big ideas. The fear of mass mediocrity can be too much for some, and the feel-good flicks of Hollywood often do the opposite of what philosophy strives for. Critical theorists of the 20th century certainly thought so, yet the sheer power of the medium to test out ideas can't be ignored. From reality in The Matrix to truth in Rashomon, film can be a virtual philosophical laboratory.”
Off to see Nick later in the year… I’ve been listening to him since 1981. Can’t wait to actually hear him in person. Barry Taylor saw him recently and wrote: “…I am still processing the amazing experience of seeing Cave and the Seeds this past weekend at the Shrine. Truly one of the more compelling musical experiences I've had in a long time--they are simply spell-binding in live performance.” The Film 20,000 Days on Earth screened tonight in Auckland. Didn’t get to see it, but hope it makes the rounds as the New Zealand International Film Festival makes its way around the country.
Here’s the official trailer
Today, an interesting conversation between Tami Simon from Sounds True and Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Jon Kabat-Zinn is the founder and director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts, whose trailblazing research has helped bring mindfulness meditation into mainstream medicine. Jon is the author of Wherever You Go, There You Are, and with Sounds True he has created many unique audio programs, including Adventures in Mindfulness and the Guided Mindfulness Meditation Series. In this episode, Tami speaks with Jon about the role of science in validating mindfulness practice, the 180-degree shift that lets us rest in awareness instead of identifying with our thoughts, and the potential renaissance in the world that may arise from a “mindfulness revolution.” (73 minutes).
There’s much that’s been written about Mindfulness. If you believe the media, there’s a “revolution” afoot. Views on mindfulness vary. It strikes me that there’s validity to some of the critique (see, for example, this post by Chris Erdman, or this one by Mark Vernon (see especially his concluson in the final paragraph), but not all of it when one thinks about what “mindfulness” in its present incarnation actually is, and what it’s trying to do, the ends for which it is being used.
There’s an important secularity to its approach, one which many non-religious find useful. You’re more likely to attend a mindfulness workshop in the workplace than one on contemplative prayer. Notice the link above. Kabat-Zinn is the founder and director of the Stress Reduction Clinic. There are important health benefits, which cannot be underestimated.
Contemplative prayer (my preference), within the Christian tradition, might well produce similar outcomes. I am however not aware of the science to support this, contra the increasing amount of science being done in relation to mindfulness.
Anyway, have a listen to Jon Kabat-Zinn. You’ll find the podcast here.
A lot, always and rather constantly. Too much to mention in detail. Life is not an either-or situation or a success-failure situation. We're all a bit successful and a bit failed. The egg was cooked perfectly but the toast was burned. I'm a Wabi-Sabi sort of person I hope. Wabi-Sabi; the lovely Japanese idea about aesthetics that sees true beauty in the qualities of imperfection, incompleteness and impermanence. The beauty of the worn and well-loved thing. I failed badly with my formal education but the sky did not fall in - in fact the clouds parted and the sun came out.
What is the best way to allow children to become who they need to be?
To not loom over them too much and boss them about. To recognise they are essentially intelligent. I think children are pretty good at the start and it's our job to preserve them like that rather than to prepare them for the world. Let what is natural in them grow so they have a good sense of themselves. Give them a lot of freedom and trust. A happy child wants to learn. Look after their sense of security, their natural wisdom and the rest will work itself out.
There seems to be a lot about lately in everyday media on sex addiction and the pervasive and deeply damaging nature of pornography in a digital age… Barry Taylor offers some thoughts, and points to an interesting article in the Guardian. This video – Why Married Women Cheat – on a NZ media lifestyle page on the web. And finally the boys at Nomad feature an interview with Prof. Gail Dines, Wheelock College in Boston, where she is Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies and Chair of the American Studies Department. Dines is the author of PornLand: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality and in the interview she discusses themes from her book. You’ll find the interview here.
And of course there’s the Spike Jonze movie Her which again raises interesting themes for reflection and discussion. Questions like: “What is Love?” “How do we truly and genuinely love another person?” “Why is there an epidemic of loneliness?” etc.
‘Hiding is an act of freedom from the misunderstanding of others, especially in the enclosing world of oppressive secret government and private entities, attempting to name us, to anticipate us, to leave us with no place to hide and grow in ways unmanaged by a creeping necessity for absolute naming, absolute tracking and absolute control. Hiding is a bid for independence, from others, from mistaken ideas we have about our selves, from an oppressive and mistaken wish to keep us completely safe, completely ministered to, and therefore completely managed. Hiding is creative, necessary and beautifully subversive of outside interference and control. Hiding leaves life to itself, to become more of itself. Hiding is the radical independence necessary for our emergence into the light of a proper human future.’
~ David Whyte, excerpted from his forthcoming collection of essays - Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and the Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. Sadly I couldn't track down any information on a publication date pr publisher details.
One of the most thought-provoking TV series that I’ve watched over the last couple of years was Breaking Bad.
“…The TV series Breaking Bad tells the story of Walter White, a one time high school chemistry teacher and suburban family man. After being diagnosed with lung cancer, he turns to producing and selling methamphetamine, his life ultimately descending into crime and violence. The series transcended cult status and is regarded as a modern classic of TV drama.
It's creator and executive producer, Vince Gilligan, is in conversation with Adam Spencer about the making of this iconic TV show.”
Catching up with some archived editions of ABC Radio show Poetica. It’s a nice follow on from yesterday’s post featuring Clive James. I’ll never forget listening to Colquhoun live in the New Plymouth library a few years ago. He’s a fine poet to hear live. His is a fascinating story.
Here’s part of the “promo” for the show.
“Glenn Colquhoun is a New Zealand poet and GP. After the breakup of his marriage he went to live in the small Maori community of Te Tii where he was taught to fish, to cook, and how to speak Maori. His first book of poems, The Art of Walking Upright, grew out of this experience and is a kind of extended love poem to Te Tii, its people, land and seascapes…”