A photo I took, it makes quite a pretty background. Click on image for full size version.
For sometime last year I considered enrolling for a second BA degree in Communication Design (Graphic Design) at the University of Johannesburg. To be considered, an applicant has to submit a portfolio consisting of certain items. One of the required briefs specified a comic strip consisting of five frames, without captions, that illustrates the day in your life you are most proud of.
The photo above, is my unfinished representation of the day I gave my first tutorial in philosophy. It remains unfinished because I abandoned the entire portfolio project when the political situation at UJ disrupted their administrative process and they botched my application. (In retrospect I’m glad it didn’t work out.) The first frame shows me having a cigarette outside the Humanities building, the second shows me nervously biting my lip and the third is me preparing myself in the lady’s room in front of the mirror. The fourth would have been another close-up of my face with my glasses after I had tamed my wild hair into a business-bun (my general work-look) and the last would have been me in front of a smiling class from my back perspective (mirroring the lady’s room frame).
I chose this day because it represented the fruits of all my years of studying something no one knew what to do with. The most popular question people ask me when they hear I study philosophy is, “What do you aim to get hired for with that?”. And I never knew what to say. I still detest this question, people still feel compelled to ask me even though by now I actually have two jobs. In truth I hope to encourage and facilitate the process that taught me to think critically. My first year philosophy classes changed my life, they actually literally redirected the course of my life forever. It was epic man. I idolized my first lecturer, he made bold statements and parked his motorbike right in front of the building. He introduced me to Socrates, Epicures, Kant, Nietzsche, Frankl, Camus and most important of all he introduced me to Schopenhauer. Sparking a life-long academic love affair.
My first tutorial class represented my first chance to do the same for other students. I was incredibly nervous, and in actuality I couldn’t stand up from my chair because I didn’t want the students to see how violently I was shaking. But although my body was failing me, in my heart I felt like a superhero. I still speak to some of the students from that very first class, and maintain a close friendship with two especially bright girls who are already changing the world (I swear to Spaghetti Monster). I still work as a tutor, but in another division of the department; Business Ethics. Which is an entirely different post of challenges and rewards all together.
There is a bona-fide goldmine of knowledge and wisdom, and to reach it all you have to do is simply search TED talks on Youtube. Whether you are interested in science; design; art; music; architecture; technology or religion, you WILL learn something! TED talks is an event sponsored by BMW that shares ideas worth spreading. Speakers range from Richard Dawkins to Tony Robins and Jamie Oliver.
This specific talk by Vik Muniz is on creativity and its inspirational value is off the charts! My favorite quote is: “creativity is how we cope with creation.” Wow.
I’ve wanted to write this post for so long, but the subject matter is so close to my heart I didn’t know how to do it justice. Writing about something that changed your life in such a personal way always sounds a bit like you’re advertising or testifying. I want to say things like: “DUDE….reaaallly, really!!!” And there really is no way to express in type how something touched you.
There is a film that changed my world view, it calmed the urgency of my questions about life and answered quite a few. One is a film made by people who had never made a movie before and this alone impressed me. One man had an idea and it grew to reach an audience that even includes me all the way in Africa!
In the movie they present a wide range of spiritual leaders and some normal folk with 20 questions such as: why is there suffering in the world, what is the meaning of life and what happens after you die? Christians, Buddhists and even atheists respond and the film makers make no judgement, they simply present the answers.
After watching it I felt very light and more to the point, enlightened. A Sufi mystic in the film says that what we are all so afraid of is only the simple process of life, and this especially struck me. The mystic goes on to explain why living in the present is so important, and although everyone says it and some even preach it, this was the first time it really hit home for me and I fully understood the concept.
I purchased the DVD within weeks, this was more than a year ago and I’m still showing it to anyone willing to sit down long enough. I strongly urge you; reader, stranger, friend, seeker, leader, adventurer, couch potato, who ever you are, to take the time to converse with this documentary. And I mean converse with it, be brave and enter into a dialectical debate with your beliefs.
If nothing else you will come out the other end at least refreshed and a little wiser.
I first saw this experiment in the film What The Bleep Do We Know, and out of all the information they give you (and they give you a lot) this stuck with me the most. So much so that I started sticking all sort of labels on my water bottles at home.
If you’re interested you can read all about the specifics of the experiment here on the official website. Although I was very inspired my philosophical inclinations insist that I should be skeptical. So I must concede that there are doubts about the authenticity and validity of Dr. Emoto’s experiments. And lucky for me someone has already written a sound paper outlining the skeptic’s claims. Which you can read here.
I must confess however that I did not read that entire essay, and instead consciously decided to believe the experiment has merit. I like thinking that loving my water will cause it to form pretty patterns and love me back. I also like the further premise that our bodies are mostly water and loving our bodies can really alter our molecules. It’s a pleasant concept which I believe only encourages peace and love – towards nature and ourselves.
This week I watched a film that gave me such hope I had to share it! The Yes Men Fix The World is a film about two of the bravest men I have ever seen. Not only was it a good film that both my boyfriend and I enjoyed, it also restored my faith in the dream of changing the world. Often when I speak about my personal beliefs (vegetarianism, global warming etc.) among my friends; they’ll snicker at me, and I can hear them thinking that one person cannot possibly hope to help. But this film proves them wrong! These two men are doing the good work, and spreading the right message, and I commend them for it! I also wish them the best of luck!
The video I’m posting today is an extract from the film where they blanket New York with a fake New York Times which prints the kind of news we all wish were headlines. I think this is such a positive form of activism which affirms humanity and the worth of every single individual.
The film just came out to rent in South Africa, and it is the best R25 you’ll spend all week.
And if you’re moved by their movement and want to start moving with them, you can sign up here.
On difficult days like today I try to remember a quote which I believe holds true: “Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are good is like expecting the bull not to charge because you are vegetarian.” – Dennis Wholey