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What Is an "Existential Crisis”?: An Animated Video Explains What the Expression Really Means | Open Culture
[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEzMwNBjkAU ]

"“Who am I?” many of us have wondered at some point in our lives, “What am I? Where am I?”… maybe even—while gazing in bewilderment at the pale blue dot and listening to the Talking Heads—“How did I get here?”

That feeling of unsettling and profound confusion, when it seems like the hard floor of certainty has turned into a black abyss of endless oblivion…. Thanks to modern philosophy, it has a handy name: an existential crisis. It’s a name, says Alain de Botton in his School of Life video above, that “touches on one of the major traditions of European philosophy,” a tradition “associated with ideas of five philosophers in particular: Kierkegaard, Camus, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre.”

What do these five have in common? The question is complicated, and we can’t really point to a “tradition.” As the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy notes, Existentialism is a “catch-all term” for a few continental philosophers from the 19th and 20th centuries, some of whom had little or no association with each other. Also, “most of the philosophers conventionally grouped under this heading either never used, or actively disavowed the term ‘existentialist.’” Camus, according to Richard Raskin, thought of Existentialism as a “form of philosophical suicide” and a “destructive mode of thought.” Even Sartre, who can be most closely identified with it, once said “Existentialism? I don’t know what it is.”

But labels aside, we can identify many common characteristics of the five thinkers de Botton names that apply to our paralyzing experiences of supreme doubt. The video identifies five such broad commonalities of the “existential crisis”:

1. “It’s a period when a lot that had previously seemed like common sense or normal reveals its contingent, chance, uncanny, and relative nature…. We are freer than we thought.”

2. We recognize we’d been deluding ourselves about what had to be…. We come to a disturbing awareness that our ultimate responsibility is to ourselves, not the social world.”

3. “We develop a heightened awareness of death. Time is short and running out. We need to re-examine our lives, but the clock is ticking.”

4. “We have many choices, but are, by the nature of the human condition, denied the information we would need to choose with ultimate wisdom or certainty. We are forced to decide, but can never be assured that we’ve done so adequately. We are steering blind.”

5. This means that anxiety is a “basic feature” of all human existence.

All of this, de Botton admits, can “seem perilous and dispiriting,” and yet can also ennoble us when we consider that the private agonies we think belong to us alone are “fundamental features of the human condition.” We can dispense with the trivializing idea, propagated by advertisers and self-help gurus, that “intelligent choice might be possible and untragic… that perfection is within reach.” Yet de Botton himself presents Existentialist thought as a kind of self-help program, one that helps us with regret, since we realize that everyone bears the burdens of choice, mortality, and contingency, not just us.

However, in most so-called Existentialist philosophers, we also discover another pressing problem. Once we become untethered from pleasing fictions of pre-existing realities, “worlds-behind-the-scene,” as Nietzsche put it, or “being-behind-the-appearance,” in Sartre’s words, we no longer see a benevolent hand arranging things neatly, nor have absolute order, meaning, or purpose to appeal to.

We must confront that fact that we, and no one else, bear responsibility for our choices, even though we make them blindly. It’s not a comforting thought, hence the “crisis.” But many of us resolve these moments of shock with varying degrees of wisdom and experience. As we know from another great thinker, Eleanor Roosevelt, who was not an Existentialist philosopher, “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being…. For the person who is unwilling to grow up… this is a frightening prospect.”"
existentialcrises  existentialism  philosophy  video  2016  kierkegaard  camus  nietzsche  heidegger  sartre  jean-paulsartre  albertcamus  humancondition  alaindebotton 
july 2016 by robertogreco
SRSLY What Does IKEA Say About The Human Condition? | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios - YouTube
"You may have seen our April Fools video... sorry for disappointing you back then when we didn't have an actual discussion about IKEA and the human condition. But now we're doing it for real!!!! While a huge corporate entity may not be the most likely place to find discussion points for the human condition, we're going for it anyway. For example, what is "The IKEA Effect"? What is it about building your own furniture that is so satisfying (or frustrating)? And those stores... oh, we can undoubtedly find some metaphors in their labyrinthine layouts. So what DOES Ikea say about the human condition? Watch the episode and find out!"
ikea  2014  mikerugnetta  kornhaberbrown  humancondition  curiosity  fear  love  capitalism  karlmarx  theikeaeffect  effortjustification  consumerism  materialism  disposability  universality 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Louis C.K. Was Almost Right About Smartphones, Loneliness, Sadness, the Meaning of Life, and Everything | The Frailest Thing
"“I think these things are toxic, especially for kids …” That’s Louis C.K. talking about smartphones on Conan O’Brien last week. You’ve probably already seen the clip; it exploded online the next day. In the off-chance that you’ve not seen the clip yet, here it is. It’s just under five minutes, and it’s worth considering.

Let me tell you, briefly, what I appreciated about this bit, and then I’ll offer a modest refinement to Louis C.K.’s perspective.

Here are the two key insights I took away from the exchange. First, the whole thing about empathy. Cyberbullying is a big deal, at least it’s one of the realities of online experience that gets a lot of press. And before cyberbullying was a thing we worried about, we complained about the obnoxious and vile manner in which individuals spoke to one another on blogs and online forums. The anonymity of online discourse took a lot of the blame for all of this. A cryptic username, after all, allowed people to act badly with impunity.

I’m sure anonymity was a factor. That people are more likely too act badly when they can’t be caught is an insight at least as old as Plato’s ring of Gyges illustration. But, insofar as this kind of behavior has survived the personalization of the Internet experience, it would seem that the blame cannot be fixed entirely on anonymity.

This is where Louis C.K. offers us a slightly different, and I think better, angle that fills the picture out a bit. He frames the problem as a matter of embodiment. Obviously, people can be cruel to one another in each other’s presence. It happens all the time. The question is whether or not there is something about online experience that somehow heightens the propensity toward cruelty, meanness, rudeness, etc. Here’s how I would answer that question: It’s not that there is something intrinsic to the online experience that heightens the propensity to be cruel. It’s that the online experience unfolds in the absence of a considerable mitigating condition: embodied presence.

In Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory, his unnamed protagonist, the whiskey priest, comes to the following realization: “When you visualized a man or woman carefully, you could always begin to feel pity … that was a quality God’s image carried with it … when you saw the lines at the corners of the eyes, the shape of the mouth, how the hair grew, it was impossible to hate.”

This is, I think, what Louis C.K. is getting at. We like to think of ourselves as rational actors who make our way through life by careful reasoning and logic. For better or for worse, this is almost certainly not the case. We constantly rely on all sorts of pre-cognitive or non-conscious or visceral operations. Most of these are grounded in our bodies and their perceptual equipment. When our bodies, and those magical mirror-neurons, are taken out of play, then the perceptual equipment that helps us act with a measure of empathy is also out of the picture, and then, it seems, cruelty proceeds with one less impediment.

The second insight I appreciated centered on the themes of loneliness and sadness. What Louis C.K. seems to be saying, in a way that still manages to be funny enough to bear, is that there’s something unavoidably sad about life and at the core of our being there is a profound emptiness. What’s more, it is when we are alone that we feel this sadness and recognize this emptiness. This is inextricably linked to what we might call the human condition, and the path to any kind of meaningful happiness is through this sadness and the loneliness that brings it on.



But the smartphone is not altogether irrelevant. It is part of a practice that is itself a manifestation of the problem. The problem is not the smartphone, it’s this thing we’re doing with the smartphone, which, in the past, we have also done with countless other things."
louisck  michaelsacasas  via:tealtan  2013  culture  digital  internet  behavior  empathy  commenting  alanjacobs  anonymity  blaisepascal  grahamgreene  cyberbullying  loneliness  sadness  humancondition  humans  human  happiness  web  online  meanness  rudeness  cruelty  smartphones  tolstoy  lmsacasas 
november 2013 by robertogreco
The Lives They Lived [Lebbeus Woods] - NYTimes.com
"I’ve read comparisons of Woods to John Cage and to William Blake and of his paper architecture to the designs of 1960s collectives like Archigram…He belongs to a long line of urban dreamers that includes Sant’Elia and Le Corbusier."

"The human condition was architecture’s responsibility, inseparable from the catastrophes we bring onto ourselves, and the solutions we discover for them."

"In later years, he went to war-ravaged places to draw. For Sarajevo he composed a manifesto, read in full view of Serbian snipers: “I am at war with my time, with history, with all authority that resides in fixed and frightened forms.” He advocated a third way between restoring old buildings or building anew. It involved a mix of salvation and invention, memory and morality. The task of designing real buildings, he thought, belonged to local architects; his aspiration was “on the level of principle.”"

“Architecture should be judged not only by the problems it solves, but by the problems it creates."
michaelkimmelman  morality  memory  invention  restoration  principles  iconoclasm  war  responsibility  humancondition  williamblake  johncage  architecture  2012  lebbeuswoods 
december 2012 by robertogreco
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago: Profiles: Nick Cave
"My work, clothing & fiber-based sculptures, collages, installations, & performances, explore use of textiles & clothing as conceptual modes of expression & pose fundamental questions about human condition in social & political realm…

I believe that what happens in my studio & living life as an artist are the single most important things I bring to the classroom. Artists must design their own pathways, work through plateaus in their work & understand that they will find themselves humbled by the very process of art-making.

I encourage my students to build their work w/ conviction, come face-to-face w/ truth of what they are attempting to create, & be open to experimentation.

I have been lucky to have been mentored by talented artists who taught me to challenge myself & build level of confidence & trust in my creative judgment…I hope to provide my students w/ knowledge that their art making holds the possibility for acting as a vehicle for change on a larger, global scale."
nickcave  art  performance  textiles  classideas  performanceart  design  collage  assemblage  life  living  teaching  education  learning  artists  glvo  cv  sound  interactive  sculpture  installation  expression  humancondition  society  politics  sensemaking  experimentation  doing  making  understanding  self  confidence  trust  wearable  fabric  sewing  change  costumes  dance  soundsuits  tcsnmy  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  pedagogy  howwework  wearables 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Guernica / The Straight Dope — Bill Moyers interviews David Simon, April 2011
"David Simon would be happy to find out that The Wire was hyperbolic and ridiculous, and that the “American Century” is still to come. But he's not betting on it. An excerpt from Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues, forthcoming from The New Press."

"I am very cynical about institutions and their willingness to address themselves to reform. I am not cynical when it comes to individuals and people. And I think the reason The Wire is watchable, even tolerable, to viewers is that it has great affection for individuals. It’s not misanthropic in any way. It has great affection for those people, particularly when they stand up on their hind legs and say, “I will not lie anymore. I am actually going to fight for what I perceive to be some shard of truth.”"
davidsimon  billmoyers  toread  interviews  thewire  tv  television  politics  drugs  cities  baltimore  2011  government  policy  society  economics  journalism  statistics  progress  crime  lawenforcement  criminology  urban  urbanism  laissezfaire  markets  marketfundamentalism  decriminalization  underclass  class  race  incarceration  institutions  cynicism  reform  change  individualism  people  human  humancondition  humans  democracy  control  corruption  mexico  us  ideology 
april 2011 by robertogreco
THE SELF INTERVIEW | Everybodys Toolbox
"The self interview is a writing exercise aimed at developing your work through verbal articulation. Questioning yourself as a strategy for idea development, documentation and/or reflection. The self interview is to be understood as a tool that can be used in different moments of a working process, as a preparation/proposal of a work, as documentation or as a reflection tool once a work has been completed. When published the self interview is also a tool to share ideas, work/s, methods, strategies etc."
planning  reflection  goals  interviews  classideas  selfinterview  work  projects  via:tomc  humancondition  human  self-management 
january 2011 by robertogreco

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