Viewing entries posted in May 2011
Some of us hate having our photo taken. For the French
novelist Honor de Balzac (1799-1850) the discomfort of
having this daguerreotype made by Nadar must have been
particularly acute. According to Nadar, Balzac believed that
physical bodies are made up of spectral layers;...
Modern life has slowly robbed us of the ability to craft our
own environment. We have become de-skilled, spending our
waking-hours in offices staring at screens, buying
ready-meals and ready everything. What does it mean when
we're told we need a TV chef to...
Are you fed up with 'find-your-passion' literature and
discourse? Well if you're anything like me then you are. On
top of that, I've felt guilty or in some way inadequate and
definitely jealous, just because I haven't been able to find
my passion. Can...
Speaking at Google's Zeitgeist Conference in Hertfordshire
this week, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking again declared
that 'Philosophy is dead'.
Almost all of us must sometimes wonder: Why are we here?
Where do we come from?, said Hawking. Traditionally, these
are questions for philosophy, but philosophy...
I love Samuel Johnson. He wasn't always that happy in his
own personal life, but he's one of the patron saints of my
happiness project, because he made and broke resolutions so
many times, yet kept on making them. There's a quote of...
Status is an appetite like food or sex. We've inherited
brains that care about status despite our best intentions.
Our mammalian ancestors had to rise in the ranks of their
herd or pack or troop to pass on their DNA. The brain that
What is it like to be alive in a consumer culture such as
our own? What is the shape of life for us as members of that
modern sub-species of homo sapiens, known as the consumer?
The French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan had one...
Last week was the tercentenary of the birth of David Hume,
the great Enlightenment philosopher, whose most famous idea
is that reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the
passions. That's an extraordinary statement, if you think
about it, coming in...
We live in an age where the possibility of conversation is
greater than ever. We update Facebook statuses. We Twitter.
We follow and are followed. We subscribe to feeds and lists.
The flow of information is instantaneous, the response
rapid, the exchanges frequent. Social...
Not finishing a book you have started is a very particular
kind of guilt, certainly for those of us who have never
quite grown out of a wish to please a teacher, literal or
figurative. In setting out to read a book, one...