Tag Archives: philosophy

10-Minute Stories – Gatherings at The River Tay

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. It was Jules who first suggested that the first strike of the bell after noon shall be the call for the companions to join in their weekly gathering.

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They had laughed, knowingly, upon hearing this rule. It made perfect sense, given their purpose, and they appreciated his wit.

At first, only three friends had come together. The conversation seemed to wind its way to philosophical matters, quite naturally. The thoughts and words flowed with ease. It was always possible to reach deeper depths, yet never arrive at a conclusion. Thus the conversation continued each week. Before long, there were seven. And then more.

In essence, their goal and passion was to explore the many dimensions of truth, depending on perspective, mythology, experience and beliefs. For instance, they considered the possibility that life does not “happen” to us, but that instead it unfolds exactly as we imagine it will.

“All of us, at some point, have experienced great success in moments when we felt confident, and great failures in moments of doubt,” had observed Adrian. “The confidence or doubt preceded the success or failure; not the other way around. It is the very thing the mind focuses on that brings the outcome.”

“But what if I feel very confident and fail anyway?” asked Ryan, merely to raise the question and fuel the conversation.

“Then perhaps the failure is not a failure at all, but rather a stepping stone leading to the proper change of course toward success,” immediately suggested another companion. “The real failure, in this case, is in believing in failure and giving up instead of believing in the inevitability of success, without a doubt. If our scientists believed in failure, their careers would last but a few days!”

The gatherings often lasted the entire two hours of the customary afternoon recess all villagers enjoyed. The sun was very hot during those hours and men, woman and children gathered in courtyards or near rivers under large trees to restore their bodies before returning to work until late in the evening.

Joel was the one who coined a name for the companions. They had had an especially inspiring conversation that day when they suddenly came to the realization that though they embraced different beliefs and views, they never argued. “Some day,” he mused, “some historian will talk about our village and its uncommon gathering of companions at the thirteenth hour. When faced with the necessity to name us, he will pen down, ‘The Neorightarians of Sheluvac.” They laughed.

And indeed, centuries later, Master Historian Donovan Greer, who specialized in the history of Sheluvac on River Tay, would smile with delight upon coming up with the term Neorightarian: A person who partakes of philosophical debates not from a sense of righteousness, but rather from deep reverence for exploring all facets of truth in search of a new, broader perspective.

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Topic: Select 1 each from a list of 18 prefixes, 18 roots and 18 suffix to form a new word. Use the word in a story. Selection: neo-right-arian. Begin with the phrase, “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” (1984, George Orwell)

Exercise Book: Take Ten For Writers

Simple Pleasures – Jelly Bellies & the Examined Life

As I mentioned previously, one of my guilty pleasures is to watch episodes of The Golden Girls while I work on art projects. I do not actually watch so much as I listen, with a glance at the screen now and then, because some moments on that extremely well written show are just worth the pause, every time.

What I want to do now, however, is share another guilty pleasure. I also watch documentaries while sewing. I find these on hulu. Some date back to the 60’s; others are as recent as 2012. What I enjoy about documentaries is that I can ignore the screen and keep focused on my work, while at the same time engaging my mind with something new, a fresh perspective or the life experiences of great entrepreneurs and dreamers.

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Last night, I watched a 2009 documentary titled Examined Life.

“…entertaining and thought-provoking excursions with some of today’s most famous and influential thinkers. Included are Peter Singer on the ethics of consumption; Slavoj Zizek on the environment; Michael Hardt on the nature of revolution; Judith Butler and Sunaura Taylor question culture’s fixation on individualism. And Cornel West… compares philosophy to jazz and blues, reminding us how intense and invigorating a life of the mind can be.”Hulu summary

The camera follows each philosopher through New York City, Central Park or San Fransisco, on foot, by cab and even while rowing a boat, as each eloquently shares their concept of what it means to live a mindful life. For the viewer, it feels as though you are accompanying them on a walk much like two long-time friends would spend an afternoon chatting about life. It was a pure delight.

ps - 0529 - 2A few days back, I came a cross the story of the inventor of the Jelly Bellies. The documentary is titled Candyman: The David Klein Story. Surprisingly, not much of a description can be found about this movie on hulu or on other sites besides these words: “The amazing true story of David Klein who came up with the concept of Jelly Belly jellybeans.” – Hulu summary

Nevertheless, the title was compelling (especially for someone with a sweet tooth), but I am glad I watched this for another reason. The inventor in question is clearly an original character, one who quite simply allowed the unfolding of his vision no matter what. As an artist (though I find this small word to be a bit too big at times), I occasionally experience insecurity about how my work might be perceived, or even my lifestyle or the way I dress (I am not exactly a fashion bug). Seeing the journey of other creative souls reminds me that we each have our own signature and that’s OK.