Sunday, May 18, 2014

Four for a Sunday evening

DSC05906 (1300x973)Its been a very full weekend.  There was lots of travel and cooking, up the coast and around the kitchen.  Bunches of sunshine, my coriander soaking it up even as the basil wilts.  I did take time away from work, walks along the beach, sampling rich Dorset Honeycomb ice cream, dipping toes in the sea, watching the ferries glide out of the harbour, dreaming of new adventures.

1)  Bridport’s Spring Tide Food Festival was lovely.  There was an amazing variety of local food and produce on offer, from beers and sausages to cheese and preserves.  And, of course, a Punch ‘n Judy show.

And cider.  So much cider.

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An added bonus was the recreation of a bronze-age campsite, complete with a primitive still.   ‘ever more ready for the Life in the UK test…

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2)  It’s been pointed out that my social environment has become entirely female.   From housemates to friends, correspondents to chats, there are few men in conversational earshot these days, and I can count the men that I regularly talk with on one hand.  While this is probably not something that I could have achieved if I tried (and, as a sensitive soul, there are good reasons to try), it’s a bit disconcerting.

DSC05897 (1300x974)3)  The Shrink and Sage argued the nature of  Wellbeing this weekend.  It’s a thoughtful debate: the psychologist holds that it is connect, be active, take notice (or be aware of yourself and the world), keep learning and give, the philosopher advocates for a grown-up debate about what we value, rather than simple observable measures of happiness. 

This week I side with the Sage (I generally do): as a believer in the value of experiences over things, people over places, it’s all about what matters.  Together.

4)  David Brooks wrote a wonderful essay describing the Stairway to Wisdom, addressing the problem of how to move from a statistical understanding of a problem to a rich, humane one.  Data, literature, psychology, and journalism each have their role as revealing ever deeper truth about human aspirations and motivations.  DSC05910 (1300x974)But to really understand a human condition requires intimacy: joining another individual’s human life, walking alongside them, thinking as they think, feeling what they feel, smelling their fears.

Arthur Danto once asked whether any data recorder could truly explain the flowering of plants in a garden.  it could measure sun and rain, time and temperature.  But could it understand the cause and effect of planting a seed, the irrelevance of a dog wandering through, the motivation of the gardener’s selection of this particular plant, this special position.

He convinced me of the value of narrative, of human stories, in understanding history.  And, it extends, with Brooks, to everyday life.

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