What did Arendt mean by thinking?

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/aug/29/hannah-arendt-adolf-eichmann-banality-of-evil

 

This is an exceptionally interesting article not to be missed

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How even the best writers are affected by bad reviews

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I have mentioned that I very much liked the writer Kenneth Gergen and especially his book,” The saturated society”

http://identitythoughts.wordpress.com/2009/02/11/the-saturated-self-dilemmas-of-identity-in-contemporary-life-kenneth-j-gergen-pt-2/

http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/553/1198e”

I think it’s  beautifully written and explains the bad side of post modernism but also how differently it could be used.He got a very good review on the Washington Post but later got a terrible one in the NYT.In an interview he told how this affected him badly until the man who wrote the review died ten years later,I’ll put a link in here later.http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=SweMLEe6TpgC&pg=PA294&lpg=PA294&dq=kenneth+gergen+the+saturated+self++washington+post+review&source=bl&ots=_lKF4I_lVi&sig=VEbgQl1ZpIwcLgfw3S5M5sI9__U&hl=en&sa=X&ei=JJ_VUtfLEeaP7AaviYHwCA&ved=0CGwQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=kenneth%20gergen%20the%20saturated%20self%20%20washington%20post%20review&f=false.

!He used to wake up at night with thoughts of what he’s like to do to this person.This shows how even someone of high quality can be wounded easily/

Most people who read English novels have heard of Virginia Woolf. She was highly acclaimed yet had breakdowns whilst awaiting reviews .Eventually she committed suicide during WW2.Her husband was Jewish and she was afraid of what would happen if the Germans invaded Britain.

But her mental health was fragile after losing her mother and favourite older sister in her teens and also possibly being sexually assaulted by her half brother.Despite al this she had  much happiness and is one  of the most highly acclaimed women writers of the 20th century…not much good  to her of course

Sylvia Plath a great poet  a generation after Woolf also committed suicide and later became known as one of the best poets of our time

http://www.neatorama.com/2008/03/18/writers-who-suffered-from-the-sylvia-plath-effect/#!scilW

Would you like to be a tormented genius and enter the literary canon or just be an ordinary,moderately happy person? Most of us are not so gifted in any case.

Some of us believe that others with more gifts,more money,more winning personalities are much happier,but it’s not true.Many geniuses are troubled.

On the other hand being troubled by itself will not make you a genius,alas.Everybody is troubled at times.Sometimes a poet may use it

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Emmanuel Levinas, Don Quixote, and the Hunger of the Other Man

Schlemiel Theory

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Like many Jews over the centuries, I am fasting to commemorate the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD.  Now that I’m in middle of the fast, I’m having a hard time distracting myself from my hunger.  In the midst of being enthralled with my hunger, an academic memory came to my rescue.   I remember how the Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, in apposition to the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, argued that it’s not about my death and suffering (as Heidegger would say (in translation) my “being-towards-death”), it’s about the death and the suffering of the other.  Echoing this, I thought: perhaps Levinas is right, it’s not about my hunger; it’s about the hunger of the other.

Strangely enough, Levinas writes about the “hunger of the other man” in relation to Don Quixote (a comic figure which has appeared quite often in Schlemiel in Theory).  In…

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When thinking hurts us

descartes

My title has two meanings.One is that sometimes we have to think about a painful event or a person who has hurt us.Or even some past events…I recall pain when  I was told about Hitler and Stalin

On the other hand some of us  use thinking in words as a way of blocking painful emotions.whilst this  may work for a time,it may give  a lot of trouble when we need to deal with pain.Essentially we do not wish to “know” the truth in the full sense… we deceive ourselves and maybe others too

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201110/the-essential-guide-defense-mechanisms

William Blake wrote this poem

Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine,
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.
It is right it should be so;
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know,
Through the world we safely go.

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I’ve been reading Sylvia Plath recently.I see that after her husband left her she went into a frenzy of activity.She had two very young children.was often i ll with flu but she wrote all her most famous poems at this time;then she moved to London antd socialised a lot to prove she was not just a deserted wife.After this she became more, ill,there was a severe winter….then she crashed into the depths…I feel that  her frenzied writing was a way of not admitting her grief… and she got worn out and decided death was better.

Some of us who are quite cerebral are not in touch with  our bodies.We don’t feel that knife in the heart,the tears unshed,the anger that threatens… and eventually this cam lead to problems.,sometimes flu sometimes a breakdown,sometimes a broken marriage.

and also the thinking can take on a life of its own so  it keeps us awake at night… and the feelings can come out in nightmares.

So thinking can  be a curse.We all need defences at times but too much cuts us of from our own lives.

And brooding and ruminating are very damaging to the mind and soul.Thinking is not wisdom

.11257109-old-mosaic

A lovely poem that i am fond of

O sweet spontaneous

by: e.e. cummings (1894-1962)

sweet spontaneous
earth how often have
the
doting

fingers of
prurient philosophers pinched
and
poked

thee
, has the naughty thumb
of science prodded
thy

beauty, how
often have religions taken
thee upon their scraggy knees
squeezing and

buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive
gods
(but
true

to the incomparable
couch of death thy
rhythmic
lover

thou answerest

them only with

spring)

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Sand in our eyes

From primitive man to now
BBC News`

Most of what we learn we learn without trying or even knowing consciously.We learn to talk by listening and being close to others… imagine trying to teach it!We learn at school a few things like how to read but we also learn about power,fear,bullying,tormenting and the obedience expected.We may have learned this at home.
We find we are not in charge of our bodies.We must sit on a hard wooden seat for hours and go to the lavatory when it suits the adults.In a sense we learn to be slaves… or that we are slaves.Our will is to be bent to the will of others,our desires are of no worth.
Now and then we may be expected to break out and write a poem or a story..we lose the knack of this as we learn to judge ourselves critically.We learn to do something if it is judged worthwhile in its outcome and we learn not to do things just for pleasure..We must turn play into work.. then we wonder why so many young people are taking to drugs and other ways of altering consciousness.
Children are very cruel anyway because they feel what they want is most important.When I was a baby in a pram my mum used to leave me outside the front door as fresh air was important.One day a girl from up the street who was about ten asked if she could take me for a walk.
My mother thought she was too young though it was not unusual for this to happen….
So she went to a builder’s yard,got some sand,came back and threw it into my eyes…!!
I can’t remember it but I do remember my brothers being in there and fighting.. which they never stopped really….childhood hate and envy are powerful.
I learned then that my life was constantly in danger as I was lying there next to them and no doubt receiving a few blows.But just hearing them and watching them and being unable to get away was frightening..I could not speak nor walk then though I learned to speak very young with hearing them fighting all day long.
Once they tried to drown me in a mill pond.I never told anyone;no wonder I grew up nervous.Just once they let me go with them onto the moors and make a fire to boil water and make tea… I loved it.Girls could not go up there alone
I suppose it gave me a double message.Men have better games than women but they are aggressive and may turn on you and they win in fights.
I wonder why nobody ever stopped their aggression and look at the world

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Your life and your art?

http://faso.com/fineartviews/25584/artists-personal-lives-does-it-play-a-role-in-how-you-view-their-art

 

Even if Hitler’s art was good I would not want  to see it.Where do we draw the line?s

National collection of artists’  lives

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The Seeker Smashed Awake

Simple and clear

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Book review:The society of timid souls by Polly Morland

shades of grey

The book I am reading now is called”, The Society of Timid Souls”  written by Polly Morland.

Here is a very good in depth review of it and a photo of a bull fight

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/may/19/timid-souls-polly-morland-review

She is a good writer,mainly in journalism and also she works  making documentaries.The title comes from a Society that existed in New York starting around the time of Pear Harbour.It was for musiciand too timid ti play in public.From that which ended in 1946 she goe on to look at many situations which need courage such as bravery in war,in giving birth,in bull fighting.She is well read and has studied Aristotle,read Beowulf and many other serious  books and writings.Yet it is not a very difficult read.[I like hard books because I read them several times so they last longer.]The  intriguing part so far is about animals and birds which won awards for bravery.. such as pigeons in WW2 and whether an animal can be brave in the true sense.I have read half this book and strongly recommend it as suitable to a wide range of readers and also because it makes reading Aristotle seem normal,not just for scholars and academics

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristotelian_ethics

You can get Ethics by Aristotle as a free kindle book

You have to pay a little for Nichomacean Ethics and there is more than one translation so look inside before you buy it.I feel amazed by his thinking and wonder  if we’ve gone backwards

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Shame

I have just been thinking of how  both when I was a child ad later there was a very strong emphasis on  guilt and sin,but not on shame which I think is more painful or isolating.I am not quite sure what shame is but I am planning to find our.

Guilt is fear  about something  bad you have done.

Shame seems to be total feeling of being u nworthy as a person

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We need to trust the world before we can see

tWeeds or flowers I have become interested in virtue and perception.It began when I read  a little Aristotle about virtue being a habit.That was quite recent.Before that for many years I believed virtuous acts would follow from being able to perceive well.But when we are fraught our minds and eyes tighten up and so we perceive only what may be a danger to us.To perceive others well we need to be in a position to trust others and we need to feel secure.How is this possible?From my studies I read that our ability to trust begins with a trusted caregiver in infancy,[See” atttachment and loss “by John Bowlby reference to come] We may be able to become more secure later by good fortune,friendship and love.If not,I seem to get the idea that if we are insecure and nervous we cannot truly perceive others and they may be in the same position.If we are very afraid then virtuous acts may be hard to accomplish. The reason is obvious… when. we are concerned with  mere survival as a person , in that state what we do to others  may be impossible for us to consider.We cannot truly see them and so we cannot act well towards them except by good luck.Or if we are able to tolerate great anxiety,we may see better…. if not we are incapable…. Those whom we cannot see properly we cannot truly consider with feeling  and act on this feeling.We see them partly or mainly in terms of the fearful fantasies in our minds and cannot see them as  other and interesting.When we make a friend online we may feel safer but in fact we are more likely to misperceive them. When we are from a sad a or difficut background it may help greatly if we have some friends who might point out our errors if we trust enough to tell them.Or we may pretend to be hard and tough.Neither leads to virtue.If we trust God it may help but I believe we see God through the lens of our parents.. which is not good…depending on the parents. When we live in fear,we cannot see what is there before us.We cannot let go.We cannot accept grace and love nor give it.We will try to live by will power.Ironically people who are fearful inside can develop a shell of toughness and pride and so are not seen as vulnerable  and/or lovable.Tbey may seem frightening to others. This account may help to explain why politics is the way it is and also  we see that arguing is not persuasive when the other is not able to open up and see things more broadly.Arguing makes us tighten up and see less well.And it can be frightening too though some cultures find it more acceptable than others.

Here are some relevant blogs and articles

This author had a lot to say about perception… http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/obituary-marion-milner-1163951.html   http://susannanelson.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/happy-go-lucky/

http://glimpsejournal.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/the-real-bees-knees-stunning-micro-view-of-the-workers-behind-your-mothers-day-flowers/

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