Friday, June 12, 2015

Thought in motion

Podcast. It was a shorter walk this morning, Younger Daughter had arranged an early appointment for one of my canine walking companions to luxuriate in a "standard wash" at the Pet Resort. Said last night she'd happily get up and drive the dog herself, but (surprise) slept in instead and let Dad do it.

But there was still time to enjoy a bike ride, which I did. Part of it was mildly thoughtful, as I asked myself why I usually find it harder to philosophize (or even just ruminate) on two wheels, compared with two feet. I think it's partly because I have to work harder (especially on an incline) to maintain the steady pace and rhythm which invite that untethered feeling of mental freedom I find in any walk of more than a few minutes.

Partly too, it's because I've  not been biking every day and have become a rusty cycler. Must expand the habitual morning routine to include at least a few pedaled miles. Motion's the thing.

And that thought reminded me of the film documentary "Examined Life," whose subjects (Cornel West, Anthony Appiah, Peter Singer and others) young director Astra Taylor decided to put in motion.
She had just read “Wanderlust,” a discursive study of the history of walking by Rebecca Solnit, and was reminded of the figure of the peripatetic philosopher, from Aristotle (who paced the Lyceum while teaching) to Kierkegaard (a proponent of thinking while walking, which he frequently did in the Copenhagen streets) to Walter Benjamin (the embodiment of the Paris flâneur). She realized that putting her subjects in motion would elicit a different kind of interview than if they were seated behind their desks in offices. This conceit became a guiding principle for a film that would attempt to take philosophy out of the ivory tower and affirm its place in the flux of everyday life.
“My intention was to show the material conditions out of which ideas emerge,” Ms. Taylor said. “People often think of philosophy as cold, analytic, abstract, disconnected from the real world, and I really want to say that’s not the case.”
No, not when it's in motion. "Philosophy is in the streets," indeed.

(Thanks to my Research Assistant S., for sending this link and a mountain of others I'm slowly burrowing through.)

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