Morton on Humanity: The Anthropocene

A dried-up reservoir bed in South Korea.It’s a long read on The Guardian, but definitely worth it.

Timothy Morton wants humanity to give up some of its core beliefs, from the fantasy that we can control the planet to the notion that we are ‘above’ other beings. His ideas might sound weird, but they’re catching on.

‘A reckoning for our species’: the philosopher prophet of the Anthropocene

 

 

Jaywalking 101

A hundred years ago, if you were a pedestrian, crossing the street was simple: You walked across it.

Today, if there’s traffic in the area and you want to follow the law, you need to find a crosswalk. And if there’s a traffic light, you need to wait for it to change to green.

Fail to do so, and you’re committing a crime: jaywalking.

The forgotten history of how automakers invented the crime of “jaywalking”

 

Europe in crisis? Despite everything, its citizens have never had it so good – Natalie Nougayrède

europa

The EU’s achievements are huge. As Brexit begins, don’t forget that hundreds of millions still want to be part of it.

Europe in crisis? Despite everything, its citizens have never had it so good – Natalie Nougayrède

The Brave New World is more Huxley’s than Orwellian

The ascent of the latest U.S. president has proved Neil Postman’s argument in Amusing Ourselves to Death was right. In a very readable article in The Guardian, Andrew Postman (Neil Postman’s son), gives his take on the similarities of our current reality to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World rather than George Orwell’s 1984. Basically, it’s not about Big Brother watching you, but people chasing entertainment, no matter how infuriatingly ridiculous or ‘fake’ it might be.

As Postman writes:

Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture..Image result for amusing ourselves to death

Where will we go from here? Postman argues:

Who can be appalled when the coin of the realm in public discourse is not experience, thoughtfulness or diplomacy but the ability to amuse – no matter how maddening or revolting the amusement?

My dad predicted Trump in 1985 – By Andrew Postman 

 

The Canada experiment: is this the world’s first ‘postnational’ country?

Oh Canada…some food for thought based on an article in The Guardian by Charles Foran:

“The greater Toronto area is now the most diverse city on the planet, with half its residents born outside the country; Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal aren’t far behind. Annual immigration accounts for roughly 1% of the country’s current population of 36 million.”

“The American and European citizen … may find all this chatter about inclusion and welcome ethereal, if not from another planet given the events of 2016, in which the US elected an authoritarian whose main policy plank was building a wall, Britain voted to leave the EU in large part to control immigration, and right wing political parties gleefully hostile to diversity may soon form national governments, including in France.”

“None of this raw populism is going away in 2017, especially as it gets further irritated by the admittedly formidable global challenge of how to deal with unprecedented numbers of people crossing national borders, with or without visas. But denial, standing your nativist ground, doing little or nothing to evolve your society in response to both a crisis and, less obviously, an opportunity: these are reactions, not actions, and certain to make matters worse.”

The Canada experiment: is this the world’s first ‘postnational’ country?

 

 

How would the Stoics cope today?

 

Image result for marcus aurelius

“Stoicism is a school of philosophy which was founded in Athens in the early 3rd century and then progressed to Rome, where it became a pragmatic way of addressing life’s problems. The central message is, we don’t control what happens to us; we control how we respond.”

Want to know more about the stoics? Marcus Aurelius’s rather humbling Meditations is a key to understanding Roman Stoic philosophy. He said:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

and

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

and

“When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love…”

 

How would the Stoics cope today? By Ryan Holiday

Proust as Antidote for Smartphone-Induced Attention Deficit

“Daniel Mendelsohn had a particularly modern take on the value of reading Proust’s densely written, heavily detailed, slowly unfolding opus known as In Search of Lost Time (Remembrance of Things Past).:

Recently I was traveling on a train next to a young man—a recent college graduate, I guessed—who was reading a hugely fat Victorian novel. Since I teach literature, this made me happy. But as I watched him I noticed that roughly every 90 seconds he’d fish out his iPhone to check his text messages. After a while this reflexive tic made me so nervous that I moved to another seat. As a writer as well as a teacher, I found it nerve-wracking to think that this is how some people are reading novels these days—which is to say, not really reading them, because you can’t read anything serious in two-minute spurts, or with your mind half on something else, like the messages you may be getting. Multitasking is the great myth of the present era: you cannot, in fact, do two things at the same time.

Especially if one of them requires considerable resources of attentiveness and intellectual commitment. To my mind, a very important reason to have a go at Proust right now—which is to say, to read him with a mind as receptive as his was large—is to exercise one’s powers of commitment.

Proust as Antidote for Smartphone-Induced Attention Deficit

LITERATURE – Marcel Proust