2015 in review

‘Repetition produces a gradual lowering of vivid appreciation. Convention dominates. A learned orthodoxy suppresses adventure.’ [1]Without adventure civilization is in full decay. … in their day the great achievements of the past were the adventures of the past. Only the adventurous can understand the greatness of the past.

At the start of 2015 I was writing an article on Alan Watts, and hence shared a “Wattsian Message” for the new year. As 2016 begins my focus has turned to Alfred North Whitehead, the original inspiration for the title of this blog. In his book Adventures of Ideas, Whitehead wrote a civilized society is one that exhibits the five qualities of Truth, Beauty, Adventure, Art and Peace.

Whitehead was a process philosopher who had significant influence on Watts among many other thinkers, and whose work is central to my PhD thesis. His influence has not been nearly wide enough, and his comprehensive alternative scheme to the dominant mechanistic worldview is far to little known and taught. I join a group of many others who are trying to address this imbalance… and I will try to share some of this in 2016.

Anyway to recap here’s a list of my far-too-few entries of 2015:

A Wattsian Message of Happiness for 2015

3 Jan ’15

In 1940, as the Second World War began its violence, a 25-year old Alan Watts published a book called The Meaning of Happiness. Its subtitle was the quest for freedom of the spirit in modern psychology and the wisdom of the East. This book shares the same essential message of  countless books, articles and lectures that followed: you are not only what is inside your “bag of skin”, you are what is outside of it too. To kick off the new year, let me explain what this means and how it relates to Read more […]

Retreat from the city: Watts’ mountain cabins and old ferry-boats

5 Jan ’15

My partner, a sculptural artist, and I, with my love of writing, have been thinking about ways we might create some sort of retreat from the city. As I read Alan Watts’ biographies I have been curiously uncovering his two most unusual abodes: a communal mountain retreat with Gary Snyder, Catharine A. MacKinnon, Elsa Gidlow and others at Druid Heights, and an old ferry-boat named SS Vallejo with artist Jean Varda and other party-goers in San Fransisco Bay. Druid Heights, Mount Tamalpais “What Read more […]

Commemorating 100 years of Alan Watts

6 Jan ’15

Today marks the 100-year birthday of Alan Watts. While Watts’ “came out of this world” on 6 January 1915, and “returned to the world” in 1973 (far too young, at 58 years old), his legacy continues and expands in influence and appreciation. Alan Watts was a polymath of spirituality, religions, mysticism, philosophy, psychology, phenomenological, among his many disciplines. Though he tried to prevent labels, he was an expert in Zen Buddhism, Taoism, had a stint as an Episcopal clergyman, and Read more […]

Slave to society

4 Feb ’15

Society draws us into its world of the trivial, making us slaves to the superficial, the menial, its time-wasting ego-based self-absorbed naval-gazing meaninglessness. It is evermore relentlessness with its inescapable myriad of communication paths that bath you in guilt. “I haven’t replied to this.” “I haven’t called that person back.” “I have to do this.” “I must remember that.” The voices in my head remind me that I could spend my whole life, day in day out, responding to this and that. It Read more […]

Taming the beast: technology, corporatism and our shared future

6 Feb ’15

Have we reached a point in the processes of industrialisation, globalisation, and corporatisation in which we have lost control over our culture, our lives and our shared future? Looking at my life, the lives of those around me, the media and global politics and economics, I think we have. It seems to me that technology controls us, rather than us controlling it. Corporations control us, rather than us controlling it. Laws control us, rather than us controlling them. We have become slaves Read more […]

Reframing your mind: changing negative to positive one micro story at a time

7 Feb ’15

“Whatever you want to succeed at, you need to replace any negative scripts you might have with positive ones” (Ash and Gerrand 2002: 7). We need to reframe our minds, changing negative stories to positive stories, one micro story at a time. Eve Ash and Rob Gerrand’s (2002) Rewrite your life! is a book full of tips on how to reframe the micro stories in your mind from negative to positive affirmations, that empower you to be work hard (rather than procrastinate), be confident (rather than full Read more […]

I’ve gone organic, and this is why…

9 Apr ’15

I’ve gone organic, well, where an easy enough choice is available for not a completely unaffordable price. I’m trying to go to the Marrickville farmers markets on Sundays, to buy a box of ethical vegies, fruits, meats, and other products and support more local farmers and small business. Why? It is a stretch to say that buying locally grown organic food can save the world, but from what I can tell it is an important part of moving toward a sustainable society. It saves CO2 emissions involved in Read more […]

Farming practices as a national security threat

9 May ’15

Earlier this year I had the great privilege and honour of having lunch with quantum physicist turned environmental activist and feminist Dr Vandana Shiva. Dr Shiva won the Sydney Peace Prize in 2010, and was returning to Sydney as part of an Australian-New Zealand tour warning about the long-term consequences of globalised farming methods. I attempted to get an article published about some of the things that I learned. After many drafts, three submissions and one rejection (the other two never Read more […]

Havana: Aesthetics of an old city in changing Communist Cuba

26 Aug ’15

My partner and I recently spent a week in Cuba in June, mostly in the apocalyptic-like old city of Havana. My research supervisor asked if we speak at a “soiree” at his house, and in preparation I gathered some of my thoughts here. While I reveled in the history and politics, my partner is an artist and conversationalist, leading him to engage with the multi-layered city in a different way than I did. Two of the most striking aspects of Havana are photographic wall murals in the making… First Read more […]

“Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization”

18 Sep ’15

After two years of anticipation, in June this year I attended a conference called “Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization”, which brought together many of my favourite scholars. I was like a teenager anticipating a music festival with all their favourite bands. Such a geek! Around 2000 people attended the conference from around the world, splitting into 12 sections and 82 groups to workshop different ideas, uncover deeper understandings of the causes of the ecological crisis, Read more […]

 

I hope 2016 brings many wonderful adventures, new understandings of life, beauty, great expressions of art, and a deep feeling of peace, for you all.

Whitehead-224x300Alfred North Whitehead, 1861-1947


[1] Whitehead, Alfred North (1964). Adventures of Ideas. London: Cambridge University Press. pp. 276 and 278.

 

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1 Comment

  1. 14 Dec ’16    

    Thanks for your positive example.

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