The Philosopher’s Mail


The newly launched Philosopher’s Mail has firmly planted itself in my daily reading list. The first thing I do when I sit at my computer in the morning is go on Facebook and then read, to my shame, the Daily Mail’s TV and Showbiz (urgh, the spelling makes me shudder) section. But now, thanks to, what is dubbed the “antidote” to the Mail, I log onto Facebook and then The Philosopher’s Mail.

What’s so good about it? Well, I’ll let these excerpts speak for themselves.

On the storms in the UK: “The storm recalibrates our sense of ourselves, we experience a reassuring reduction in our power; less is expected of us. Tidy modern technological society, marked by a lonely individualism and competitiveness, has done most of us sufficient harm that we may not mind so very much when, for a time at least, it gets a little roughed up by nature’s awesomely indifferent hand.”

On why we care about celebrities doing mundane daily tasks: “If the task of the news is to tell us important things, then we shouldn’t define importance too narrowly. Part of what we need is to stay hopeful about the human project. Hope is an achievement and we find it in these sort of scenes – scenes where no one is dying or suffering, where things are attractive, where there is an absence of sickness and in which everyday, quiet, ordinary contentment is glimpsed.”

And: “Natalie Portman has been to the park with her young son. This is great news for humanity, because it’s easy to think that going to the park with a child is boring. But when Natalie does it, a spotlight of attention and interest momentarily shines down in a useful way. By seeing an ordinary act in the light of glamour, we renew our appreciation of it. Natalie gives us greater confidence about our routines. They’re not so different from those of a Hollywood star.”

And on Woody Allen story: “If someone instinctively feels Dylan must be right, this can’t be a judgement on the case (how could they know?), it is a revelation about who they are. If another person confesses to an equally strong sense that a man like Woody couldn’t have done something like this, it is also revealing about their views of men, power and fathers (among other issues)…. And once we’ve explored these questions to the full, the Woody-Dylan case gives us an opportunity to refresh our commitment to another vital idea: the maturity to admit – sometimes – that we don’t know what on earth is actually going on in a particular situation.”

What I find so refreshing is it actually helps me clear a few things up that bother me; it helps me put my brain in order and stops me from feeling filthy for ready TV & ShowbiZ rubbish. I actually think I might be developing that wisp-like thing that some people call perspective. I might, but it’s unlikely.

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