RSS Feed

Category Archives: podcast

Listen | David Whyte on the conversational nature of reality

Posted on

The Onbeing podcast episode with David Whyte.

David Whyte is a poet and philosopher who believes in the power of a “beautiful question” amidst the drama of work as well as the drama of life — amidst the ways the two overlap, whether we want them to or not.

Including…

The importance of asking beautiful questions

…a beautiful question shapes a beautiful mind. And so the ability to ask beautiful questions, often in very unbeautiful moments, is one of the great disciplines of a human life. And a beautiful question starts to shape your identity as much by asking it as it does by having it answered.

And you don’t have to do anything about it. You just have to keep asking. And before you know it, you will find yourself actually shaping a different life, meeting different people, finding conversations that are leading you in those directions that you wouldn’t even have seen before.

And…

Vulnerability

“Vulnerability is not a weakness, a passing indisposition, or something we can arrange to do without; vulnerability is not a choice, vulnerability is the underlying, ever present, and abiding under-current of our natural state. To run from vulnerability is to run from the essence of our nature; the attempt to be invulnerable is the vain attempt to become something we are not and most especially to close off our understanding of the grief of others. More seriously, in refusing our vulnerability, we refuse the help needed at every turn of our existence and immobilize the essential, tidal and conversational foundations of our identity.

“To have a temporary, isolated sense of power over all events and circumstances is a lovely, illusionary privilege and perhaps the prime and most beautifully constructed conceit of being human and especially of being youthfully human, but it is a privilege that must be surrendered with that same youth, with ill health, with accident, with the loss of loved ones who do not share our untouchable powers, powers eventually and most emphatically given up as we approach our last breath. The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance. Our choice is to inhabit vulnerability as generous citizens of loss, robustly and fully, or conversely, as misers and complainers, reluctant, and fearful, always at the gates of existence, but never bravely and completely attempting to enter, never wanting to risk ourselves, never walking fully through the door.”

And the importance of darkness…

Sweet Darkness


…The dark will make a home for you tonight.
The night
will give you a horizon
further than you can see.
You must learn one thing. You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.”

Advertisements

Read | On Friendship

Posted on

I’ve read a few things recently on the subject of friendship which also link in with social media and communication, subjects I’m interested in so I thought I’d collate them.

The first few are about aspects of friendship which aren’t much explored; friendship breakups and when friendships change. The second link is a podcast from This American Life and features Ta-Nehisi Coates talking to a friend of his about how things have changed now that he’s well-known.

There’s another article about how friendships change in adulthood. It makes a good point about social media;

If you never see your friends in person, you’re not really sharing experiences so much as just keeping each other updated on your separate lives. It becomes a relationship based on storytelling rather than shared living—not bad, just not the same.

This reminds me of another article about why Facebook is the junk food of socialising.

We need to remind ourselves of our evolutionary history, where we evolved without exposure to realistic representations of people. Back then, if you saw something that looked like a person, by golly it was a person. When you look at a video of a person, most of your brain thinks it’s real—the fusiform face area of your brain area reacts identically whether you’re looking at a real face or a picture of one (in fact, most experiments investigating this part of the brain do not use real faces at all, but photos or videos of them).

The errors we make when we view non-human things as human satisfies our desire to interact with other people without giving us many of the benefits. In the moment, watching TV feels good; it satisfies your desire to be with other people. But it’s the visual equivalent of empty calories—delicious but not nutritious.

There’s also this essay from The Guardian newspaper in the UK on how friendship and the social are being used for good in public health and  social policy. It also describes how friendship and the social is being used for money making purposes, labeled ‘neoliberal socialism’ in the essay.

What we encounter in the current business, media and policy euphoria for being social is what might be called “neoliberal socialism”. Sharing is preferable to selling, so long as it does not interfere with the financial interests of dominant corporations. Appealing to people’s moral and altruistic sense becomes the best way of nudging them into line with agendas that they had no say over. Brands and behaviours can be unleashed as social contagions, without money ever changing hands. Empathy and relationships are celebrated, but only as particular habits that happy individuals have learned to practise. Everything that was once external to economic logic, such as friendship, is quietly brought within it.

The essay also succinctly describes the problem I have with Facebook’s commodification of friendship:

What we witness, in the case of a social media addict, is only the more pathological element of a society that cannot conceive of relationships except in terms of the psychological pleasures that they produce. The person whose fingers twitch to check their Facebook page when they are supposed to be listening to their friend over a meal is a victim of a philosophy in which other people are only there to please, satisfy and affirm an individual ego from one moment to the next. This inevitably leads to vicious circles: once a social bond is stripped down to this impoverished psychological level, it becomes harder and harder to find the satisfaction that one wants. Viewing other people as instruments for one’s own pleasure represents a denial of the core ethical and emotional truths of friendship, love and generosity.

 

Listen | Maria Popova, Cartographer of Meaning in a digital world

Posted on

This is a wonderful conversation between Maria Popova, creator of the wonderful Brainpickings site, which is frequently referenced on this blog, and Krista Tippett host of the On Being podcasts. I love listening to the On Being podcasts and this is one of the best. It’s an insightful conversation between two hugely generous, compassionate and intelligent people.

In keeping with what On Being is interested in, the conversation covers a range of topics; philosophy and design, physics and poetry, the intellectual and the experiential. As the On Being site puts it, “what it means to live a good life – intellectually, creatively and spiritually.”

Maria Popova on the acquisition of knowledge and meaning:

And I remember, there’s a really beautiful commencement address that Adrienne Rich gave in 1977 in which she said that an education is not something that you get but something that you claim. And I think that’s very much true of knowledge itself. The reason we’re so increasingly intolerant of long articles and why we skim them, why we skip forward even in a short video that reduces a 300-page book into a three-minute animation — even in that we skip forward — is that we’ve been infected with this kind of pathological impatience that makes us want to have the knowledge but not do the work of claiming it. I mean, the true material of knowledge is meaning. And the meaningful is the opposite of the trivial. And the only thing that we should have gleaned by skimming and skipping forward is really trivia. And the only way to glean knowledge is contemplation. And the road to that is time. There’s nothing else. It’s just time.
There is no shortcut for the conquest of meaning. And ultimately, it is meaning that we seek to give to our lives.

 

Listen |The Economics of Brainwashing

Posted on

Why isn’t every addiction created equal in the court of public opinion? Compulsive smartphone use doesn’t have the same consequences as smoking crack, but ‘Candy Crush’ still makes use of the same addictive feedback loop. Whether you’re gambling or eating Cheetos, you’re trading your time and money in exchange for regular hits of dopamine. You’ll also learn why games like Candy Crush work on exactly the same principles as casino slot machines.

Cracked editors Jack O’Brien and Jason Pargin (aka David Wong) discuss the science and culture of addiction in the 21st century. They’ll look at all the ways giant corporations are exploiting our brains to control our behavior — and ask if there’s any way this addiction train can be stopped.

This is the best podcast I have heard to date. Like all Cracked podcasts the discussion is not dumbed down or so obviously scripted, there is plenty of actual discussion. At 1hr 20 mins its a standard length for these guys, just intellectual discussion about the major driving force of many Western societies which does not encourage individuals to develop their strengths or interests and what we should do to change it. Listen and subscribe to their channel because there’s plenty of interesting material.

Stream or download below.

%d bloggers like this: