I’ve been a bit under the weather for a while, but enough of that. Just a quick post today: To be explored in depth later.
Is empathy possible?
Whilst many of us would like to think so I think of it more as an aspiration. Understanding and sympathy are definitely within our grasp but empathy remains aloof. If it didn’t it’d be a different world.
What was the enlightenment? What happened to it? Was it all that important, or relevant even?
This period in history has aptly been called ‘The Century of Philosopohy’, or equally ‘The age of reason.’ It was generally believed that if one could apply the techniques of scientific reason to any problem then it could be resolved. So what went wrong. Why aren’t we all living in a non problem world?
There have been many explanations for this. The one I like best was by a guy called Habermas. He thought that history produced a duality in the seventeenth century. All cultures produced norms, expectations and values. Collectively he called these the lifeworld, an aspect of living reproduced by communication in which human actions are seen as important and significant. The lifeworld is a community, made up of commonality, a social world. But then comes along the system, equally important. But this is where it all falls down. The system is not about community. It is solely practical, its intention is governance and economic control. The lifeworld and the system differ fundamentally. The system functions through the use of money and power. It promotes individual success. There is nothing communal about it. Whilst the lifeworld produced the system they have nothing in common and this fundamental dissonance, this lack of harmony, means in the modern world there are problems galore.
Whilst the age of reason identified a myriad of problems at the same time it produced no prescriptions for any of them.
It has all been written
Many times before.
A reflection in nature
And the powers of suns.
How can I make mine different.
I say this:
Amongst a myriad of worlds
Hasn’t everything been uttered before.
Not this, by me:
‘I love you.’
On release of ‘The Post’, which I haven’t seen yet but which is on my ‘to do’ list, I got to thinking about films which had information in them as a substantial part. At first I limited myself to actual documents and didn’t get very far. There was Disney’s far fetched ‘National Treasure’ with a frantic Nicholas Cage or there was Tom Hanks equally ludicrous ‘The Da Vinci Code’. But I struggled beyond these. I included ‘All the President’s Men’ ( a masterpiece).
Then I decided to expand my search to include information, which catapulted my results, even more so with the inclusion of any old secret, which turns out to be a core component of many thrillers.
Take a moment to think about it. There are so many.
My favourites, some might say boringly, are older films. There is ‘Three days of the Condor’, incidentally a great book even with the utmost disappointment of its sequels.
Then there is 1974’s ‘The Conversation’ Gene Hackman’s masterpiece, the more modern 1998s ‘Enemy of the State’ (there’s still a good one every now and then) and Mel Gibson’s ‘Conspiracy Theory’, a good cure for paronia.
These are all entertaining films. Begin by Trying out William Gibson’s ‘Marathon Man’ and a brother with a very big secret.
Or the equally engaging ‘Capricorn One.’
All from the political paranoia of 1970s America. I won’t get political though.
Can you have a favourite book?
There are so many. All those words in all those arrangements…
When I was growing up one of my favourite books was ‘The Thirty Nine Steps’ by John Buchan. I paid homage to it with my first book, Pegasus. (Soon to be found on Amazon.)
Another favourite was ‘The Otterbury Incident’ by C.Day.Lewis
I loved the beginning of this book, I thought it was so clever. I can remember writing a story for English at school trying to emulate the ‘where it all begins’ passage at the start of this book. Still a great read.
Over the years my tastes have changed/ One of my favorite writers is Ian Mccewan. ‘Saturday’ is a great book, as is the powerful ‘Atonement’, but ‘Nutshell’ tops them.
Listening to books is a great option these days. From Big Finish and Graphic Audio to more mainstream Audible there is a wealth of choice out there. Go find some words.
All poets should drink.
It helps to open
Doors, which others have
No key to.
Not so good
For practical matters though.
Like standing up,
Or communicating with
A vistage of charm.
Still in carving words
Like words that need to speak.
It cannot be denied.
And when I try to
Explain the inevitability of it all,
That the poem is already written,
That it just needs to materialise,
I think she understands.
But she doesn’t
And the lack of obvious control
‘I will not be told.’
And so the poem slips
Into a tangle of letters
And the love dissolves.
Words are something which have fascinated me as long as I can remember. The whole concept of language and its manipulations are core to so much. But like everything humans have turned oh so beautiful words into instruments that have the potential to oppress.
I’m sure everyone who reads this blog has come across professional words and phrases, that is words which belong to a certain area of specialisation. This is on display quite clearly in the medical world. Take the term ‘gastroenteritis’, simply meaning tummy ache. Or in academia the word ‘discourse’ , meaning the process of communication. But for the unscrupulous these words can be weapons. Used on somebody unfamiliar with them they can establish hierarchies and by clever manipulation (Forms of lying) can control situations and ultimately control actions.
Paulo Friere’s book recognises how the power of words can reproduce a traditional relationship between oppressor and oppressed. Worth a read.
‘Rainy days and Mondays get me down.’
The 2002 film ‘About a Boy’ rings bells with me. Its main character, Will Thackery, is not employed because he lives on the proceeds of a christmas song his father wrote, which is re-relaesed every year. He finds his life difficult because he has no definition in his life, no role – just empty days. The film largely concerns how he comes to terms with his solitude and discovers John Dunne’s words that ‘no man is an island’ ring true. Due to a myriad of medical issues (see About Me) I too am not employed and it has taken me many years to come to terms with having no recognised ‘role’, strange though that may sound. I see the friends from my youth grow and develop but age has taught me that life is relative and everybody, everybody, has problems. My lack of self definition is in reality just a lack of confidence. In reality I have a pleasant life in which my defining role is how I treat other people.
I don’t know if its society or something that dwells within me or just circumstances but like Will I live in a world of solitude. I work hard to occupy my time. Blogging is one of the things I do.
The conservative government’s decision to appoint a Minister of loneliness bothers me. For one there is a general failure to recognise the distinction between solitude and loneliness but more importantly how is someone in Westminster (a different world) going to solve a problem which 2,000 years of civilisation hasn’t.
(By the way if you watch the film I like ‘Killing me Softly. Its a great song.)