books

Trispectivism as perceived by Roland Barthes, in Mythologies

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“How is a myth received? We must here once more come back to the duplicity of its signifier, which is at once meaning and form. I can produce three different types of reading by focusing on the one, or the other, or both at the same time.

 

  1. If I focus on an empty signifier, I let the concept fill the form of the myth without ambiguity, and I find myself before a simple system, where the signification becomes literal again: the Negro who salutes is an example of French imperiality, he is a symbol for it. This type of focusing is, for instance, that of the producer of myths, of the journalist who starts with a concept and seeks a form for it.
  2. If I focus on a full signifier, in which I clearly distinguish the meaning and the form, and consequently the distortion which the one imposes on the other, I undo the signification of the myth, and I receive the latter as an imposture: the saluting Negro becomes the alibi of French imperiality. This type of focusing is that of the mythologist: he deciphers the myth, he understands a distortion.
  3. Finally, if I focus on the mythical signifier as on an inextricable whole made of meaning and form, I receive an ambiguous signification: I respond to the constituting mechanism of myth, to its own dynamics, I become a reader of myths. The saluting Negro is no longer an example or a symbol, still less an alibi: he is the very presence of French imperiality.

The first two types of focusing are static, analytical; they destroy the myth, either by making its intention obvious, or by unmasking it: the former is cynical, the latter demystifying. The third type of focusing is dynamic, it consumes the myth according to the very ends built into its structure: the reader lives the myth as a story at once true and unreal.”

[Taken from Roland Barthes, Mythologies, Selected and translated from French by Annette Lavers, The Noonday Press – NY, Farrar, Straus & Giroux  p. 127.]

My TEDx Paradox!

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TED Talks is one of the innovative inventions in last twenty manage to enter the top entrepreneurial mission one can define as success. It is the essence of what good Internet use is all about. Briefly said, it is sharing good and creative ideas while inspiring and promoting the feeling of joy for the progress of men and women. That being said, no great invention can, and should, exist without some criticism. I personally heard comments that had implied the conferences as elitists, others that say it´s a waste of time of serious men and women, scientists and person of culture, and some speakers even complained about censuring their talks. Taking into account this criticism, one cannot argue with the hundreds of thousands of view for every recently-uploaded Talk or with the smile and awe most people immediately get when discussing the last TED Talk.

1656319_10205408741838721_1313697782321493374_nSo, to celebrate the release of my TEDx Talk video I thought of scribing some words about this memorable and wonderful experience. As it seems, about three months ago I had the chance to participate in a TEDx event. I was one of eight speakers, all of us excited and nervous, no matter what was our background and experiences we lived.

The title of my talk is Trip to Awareness and New Trispective about Life. In it I shared experiences, as well as wonderful, exuberance, life filling events that made my life rich and interesting. Many adventures, of the kind that for years were left unspoken, were revealed on this TEDx stage, mentioning some travels I did and the subsequent thoughts I had. As it seems, after many travels and adventures in different countries experiencing and learning about cultures, languages and some of the similar preoccupations we share, I might have managed to reach few exciting conclusions. The Talk was an exciting event, and although I was asked for more journey anecdotes as well as experiences I acquired, I think I succeeded inserting some of the mindful conclusions I had and the unique and pragmatic theory about life (some of which can be found in my books).

I did not say it during the Talk but without any doubt, it is inspired from a book I published in 2012 called Trispectivism (from which part of the title and this very blog are derived). In it I elaborate the method of thought process that I used to arrive to that theory and, as mentioned, was pondering about the wonderful experiences I had in the many countries I have traveled and lived.

When I think about this TEDx experience, one particular thought comes to mind: The TEDx Paradox. It is the constant effort to balance between what one might see as egocentric blabber and a necessary explanation about oneself. How does one choose wisely what to say about the things he or she did, what is great, what is mediocre and what is common and might seem as over-reacting self consumed person? As an academic, I participate in conferences regularly for the last 5 years but this experience is quite different. Presenting your work in front of experts in the matter that will judge your academic or professional ability turned out to be quite different from presenting yourself in front of a large variety of curious people with different backgrounds that will judge you according to how you present yourself in public.

“Just look above the audience”, was the first of few good advices I received and gladly assimilated. Another one was to engage with the audience, this one I failed to follow. Yet my learning experience was more than those advices and seeing my limitations but also about fear, responsibility and doubts before, and while, the Talk.

But maybe the important conclusion for me is that the Talk initiated one of the most significant contemplation I did in recent years and that is the realization that in spite of my amazing experiences, I began to acknowledge how little I have actually done to make the world a better place. This introspective reasoning rearranged my priorities and now, at the age of 36 it´s time to try and give back no matter how little we might think any contribution one can make.

And to end this, nothing better than the words of TED founder in person:

And to end this, nothing better than the words of TED founder in person:

Weekly Choice: on a Story, Spirituality without religion and please go on Booksurfing

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Over 100 MOOCS Getting Started in September! Enroll in One Today!

MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) provides many interesting, illuminating courses in different areas.  The courses are free and also can be a smart way to procrastinate. Summer craziness is over, take your chance today! For further information take a look on MOOC list below.

http://www.mooc-list.com/?gclid=CjwKEAjwp7WgBRCRxMCLx8mMnDMSJADncxS263plTIjBvwfqKNB635tU6xdaPvj7G9DhCOjnBImE5BoCAgnw_wcB

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TED’s Best Of The Week! Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story

Chimamanda comes from a conventional, middle-class Nigerian family. In an extremely articulated talk, she speaks about generalizations. Are generalizations helpful? Can we function without them? Is that a default in the way we think and perceive the world? If this TED talk she posit on this issue in a curious and enlighten way. Thus far she manages to capture the attention of more than seven million people, who will be next?

“I left Nigeria to go to university in the United States. I was 19. My American roommate was shocked by me. She asked where I had learned to speak English so well, and was confused when I said that Nigeria happened to have English as its official language. She asked if she could listen to what she called my “tribal music,” and was consequently very disappointed when I produced my tape of Mariah Carey. She assumed that I did not know how to use a stove. What struck me was this: She had felt sorry for me even before she saw me. Her default position toward me, as an African, was a kind of patronizing, well-meaning pity. My roommate had a single story of Africa: a single story of catastrophe. In this single story there was no possibility of Africans being similar to her in any way, no possibility of feelings more complex than pity, no possibility of a connection as human equals.”

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Legal murder. Legal abuse.

When someone would tell me to think of animals I would probably imagine a warm picture of myself cuddling my dog, giving her a bath and the good time I have with her. However, when one is removing her pink sunglasses, reality is quite different. What is happening? Humans are using animals for food, clothing, entertainment, and for scientific research.  In the US alone around 75,000 dogs (like mine and yours) and 22,000 cats dying every year from vivisection, many of them not even for a life saving medication but for shampoos, mascara and condoms. There are many accessible books and articles written on this subject, but until we witness it with our own eyes it’s all just dry and distant theory. Facebook is a great conscious buster about animal cruelty but is it enough (usually the sympathy doesn´t go beyond a short “it´s terrible” comment. We share the planet with animals, but instead of living with them we exploit, torture and abuse them in various ways, and all of that is today most gruesome Legal Murder, legal slavery, and rape.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKaCFyGdazo

If you are interested wish to learn more about this issue, here’s a link to “Earthlings”, an eye-opening documentary directed by Shaun Monson:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7cxmFugZMA

Here’s how to you too can do something about it:

– Don´t eat meat everyday

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics_of_eating_meat

– If you see an abuse report it

http://www.pet-abuse.com/database/

– Avoid buying and using testing brands

http://www.wikihow.com/Avoid-Buying-and-Using-Animal-Testing-Brands

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Waking Up: a guide to spirituality without religion

“I once participated in a twenty-three-day wilderness program in the mountains of Colorado. If the purpose of this course was to expose students to dangerous lightning and half the world’s mosquitoes, it was fulfilled on the first day. What was in essence a forced march through hundreds of miles of backcountry culminated in a ritual known as “the solo,” where we were finally permitted to rest—alone, on the outskirts of a gorgeous alpine lake—for three days of fasting and contemplation.

waking up

I had just turned sixteen, and this was my first taste of true solitude since exiting my mother’s womb. It proved a sufficient provocation. After a long nap and a glance at the icy waters of the lake, the promising young man I imagined myself to be was quickly cut down by loneliness and boredom. I filled the pages of my journal not with the insights of a budding naturalist, philosopher, or mystic but with a list of the foods on which I intended to gorge myself the instant I returned to civilization. Judging from the state of my consciousness at the time, millions of years of hominid evolution had produced nothing more transcendent than a craving for a cheeseburger and a chocolate milkshake.”

This is how the new book of Sam Harris begins. To read/listen to

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/chapter-one

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Recommendation of the week, BookSurfing!

A new social experiment

 “More intimate than a book club, less process-y than group therapy, and more focused than a cocktail party! Book surfing is a unique way to get to know people, and get exposed to a lot of interesting ideas and texts.

Bring something to read to a small, intimate group (6-8 people), some of whom you don’t know.

The format has been distilled over time into 5 simple rules:

  1. Everybody present (6-8 people) reads aloud a text of their choice. (Bring two texts: if time permits there is a second round of readings).
  2. Any text is suitable: it can be Shakespeare, or your diary
  3. Texts read must not exceed 450 words. (Yes, it’s Twitter-like, but it’s proven a good length.)
  4. There has to be at least one newcomer to book surfing.
  5. There have to be some participants who don’t know each other.

booksurfing_There is a moderator who organizes and runs the meeting, and makes time available for discussion after each reading.

Simple rules, but they seem to guarantee an interesting experience!”

If you are interested in this social experiment follow the example of Book Surfing Seattle on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/booksurfingseattle/info

The power of habits

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Learning about a new book while inscribing into the gym and forcing myself to go on a regular basis, had me thinking again about habits and routines.

In this new book, Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick, the psychologist Jeremy Dean talks about the function of habit. This is an amazing theme to discuss especially because we seemingly complain about its weight in our life at the same time of cherishing its necessity.

There are many facets to habit, mainly as a routine, or as an attitude towards life (eating healthy, exercise, reading or the contrary, constantly watching TV, eating junk food etc.). The interesting part is when we can actually learn from them about our lives, about ourselves and our interaction with the environment. For example, when we try to begin a new habit, learning a new language requires daily practice, so does learning a musical instrument or perfecting the one you have. It seems that there is time requirement before something becomes a habit. Doing sport is a good example. For someone who has just begun going to gym or the pool it will be a constant fight until the activity becomes routinely. How long will it be?

In his book, Dean is trying to help with some good advice of that problematic period of in between, when you are convinced at the what and why yet too weak for the where and when. Change is difficult in any context yet learning how to embrace the change will not only benefit your body (considering we are talking about acquiring a healthy habit of course) but your mind as well.

Changing habit is also well known creativity boaster. When in automatic repetition of our daily life, our creativity becomes dull, fading away into a circle of false sense of security. Being able to change your habits means to regain control on your life, bringing back that spark we all had as children in the search of our happiness.

RoutineWe tend to think that we are in control of what we wear, our choice of food, flavor, and our daily habits. “I can stop smoking whenever I decide”, we hear occasionally from a-pack-a-day smokers (I said it myself for some years), yet if and when we try to stop the habit in question suddenly we feel the void and we become less sure of that. Control and conscious decision-making is an issue we only little know about. “It is possible to neurosis to begin in childhood?” asked himself Freud. Well, it is certain that many of our identity do begin in childhood and with it many of the repercussion on our daily life as adults.

What are your habits you can´t give up or have difficulties begin?