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This tag is associated with 13 posts

Attending to the world

“Stand to attention!” The deputy head teacher would say this once a week to the ranks of sweaty kids assembled on the asphalted schoolyard — or was it a parade ground — in the arid Melbourne sun. Then we were called to “stand at ease.” To be at attention, to attend, is to be at the ready, to listen, receptive, alert. In the case of … Continue reading

Eye contact

TheOnion.com published a mockumentary about a “braindead” teenager who only communicates by rolling her eyes. She’ll never recover from the persistent vegetative state. So life termination is the only humane option. Making eye contact is a crucial social skill. There’s even advice online on how to do it. (See wickiHow.) It’s linked biologically to our survival as a … Continue reading

Where does happiness happen?

Where is the love? asked Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway back in 1972 (and The Black-Eyed Peas in 2009). It’s really a complaint — you offered me love but it never came. Where can you find love, happiness, anger, grief? It’s only a slightly different question: Where do emotions happen anyway? Here are some candidates. 1. It’s in our heads. The … Continue reading

The benefits of walking

“Walking cuts risk of stroke in men.” Scarcely a day passes without official confirmation of the health benefits of walking. ‘Why does one walk?’ we say; ‘that one may be healthy’; and in speaking thus we think we have given the cause. This is a direct quote from Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book 5, Section 2. Interestingly, he … Continue reading

What’s wrong with posthumanism

One of the benefits of strange encounters is that they cause us to reflect, to see the familiar as peculiar. When I’m in reflective mode, films about parasitic alien life forms and rogue humanoid robots help me ponder the human condition: my frailty and finitude, or that my life is much better than it could … Continue reading

Accentuate the negative

Protesters are demonstrating against plans to build on Gezi Park in Istanbul (Financial Times). Commentators say the park issue is just a trigger for the expression of widespread discontent. But people do have passionate views about open outdoor space. A recent article on the BBC Science website says, “Being physically active can bolster good mental health … Continue reading

Digital mood modifiers

Apparently botox helps you feel better. I’m researching mood, so I’ve skimmed through a recent book called The Face of Emotion: How Botox Affects Our Moods and Relationships, in which the author says, “If you smile broadly, at that moment you will feel happier. You need your smile to help you ‘feel’ the emotion.” Conversely, frowning … Continue reading

Swinging

Watching blockbuster CGI animated features is a good way to keep abreast of advances in digital effects — and philosophy. I can’t help noticing that each movie becomes more gravity-defying than the last, and with 3D, the characters come right at you. In titles such as How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda and … Continue reading

Bodies in motion

After two weeks of warm up, followed by seventeen days of recovery, came the real olympics, where applause and cheers were offered up for personal life triumphs, rather than for just winning on the track. The ordinary Olympics prepared the way, and put people in the mood for the Power-olympics. The other mood clinchers for … Continue reading

Spem in Alium

Thanks to Kindles and e-readers you can read anything at home, at work, on the train, or the bus without embarrassment. No one need ever see the book’s cover. Paper books can be left lying around the house for others to pick up. Not so with electronic books. Reading really has become a private affair. … Continue reading

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