Philosophical Movie Pick: Man on Wire

Our latest philosophical movie pick, part of our series on thought-provoking entertainment.

Man on Wire (2008) is the story of Philippe Petit’s quest to walk a high wire between the two towers of the World Trade Center, a plan that he conceived of before the towers were built. Directed by James Marsh, based on the book by Phillipe Petit. The film is available to stream on Netflix.

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Here are just some questions you might ask yourself while watching the film:

  • What is the purpose of art? Does it exist for its own sake? What kinds of sacrifices should an artist be willing to make for art? What kinds of risks should an artist be willing to take?  Does the world need people who will flaunt the rules and taunt authorites?
  • How far should we go in pursuing a passion? Should we do things with no other reason than that we want to? What are the consequences for others?
  • Are adventures better when we are experiencing them or when we are reliving them? Why?

If you have seen the film, what questions did it raise for you? Let us know in comments!

What Is Geek Philosophy? Part 3: Wholeness

A look at the Geek Philosophy of Wholeness. Part 3 in our “What Is Geek Philosophy?” series.

After our last post on the principle of Slow Reading-Close Reading, we promised you a post on the Geek Philosophy principle of Wholeness. It turned out that it was easier to promise the post than produce it. Wholeness is a principle that, as you might have guessed, encompasses all our other principles. It is also the hardest to explain.
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There are two kinds of wholes. One is the collection, like a basket full of stuff. It’s an artificial whole that someone put together. If you want to really know what is in the basket, you have to take the collection apart and examine each piece. The other kind of whole is an organic whole or unity, a whole that just came that way, like a tree or a person. You can try to understand a tree or person by examining their parts but you won’t really understand them unless you see them as the wholes they are.

Continue reading “What Is Geek Philosophy? Part 3: Wholeness”

What Is Geek Philosophy? Part 2: Slow Reading-Close Reading

Examining the principles of Geek Philosophy. This time, Slow Reading-Close Reading.

As part of our ongoing series on the practice of Geek Philosophy, we are taking a look at our principle of Slow Reading-Close Reading.

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Chapter Art by Mary Grandpré

Geek Philosophy is inspired in part by the thinking of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. He believed that it is possible to get to know the world like you know a friend, through the development of intimacy over time. Let’s say that I have a friend named Luna. When Luna does something particularly characteristic of her unique self, I might say, “That’s SO Luna.” This suggests that, because I know Luna well, I can communicate a lot about who she is by pointing to one particularly telling moment in her life. Goethe called this the pregnant or poignant instance.

Goethe believed that we could find poignant instances in the lives of plants, animals, rivers, and rocks in the same way we can find them in the lives of people. Geek Philosophy strives to find these instances in stories. We then take time and care in looking at them so that they reveal their wisdom to us. A poignant instance in the life of a flower reveals something profound about the nature of flowers. A poignant instance in the life of a friend or a story reveals something profound about what it means to be human.

This is why we discuss stories slowly over time–one or two chapters, scenes, or episodes per discussion–and read them closely–looking carefully at words, lines, and passages without divorcing them from their context. We believe that every part of a story has its own poignancy but here is a tip for Geek Philosophy facilitators and participants who are trying to decide which parts of a story they feel the most moved to discuss: Imagine that you are an illustrator and you must choose only one moment in the chapter, episode, or film to illustrate. Which would you choose? How would you frame it? Why? Would you choose another moment for the book cover or movie poster? What and why? Does the moment delight you, unsettle you, or produce an even more complicated effect?

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Our Friend, Luna!

 

 

We encourage everyone to try this exercise on their own but it is even more rewarding when it takes place in community. Visit our Community menu to find the Geek Philosophy discussions that are right for you.

The principles of Geek Philosophy do not operate in isolation from each other. Next time, we will discuss the principle of Wholeness, something that is intimately connected to Slow Reading-Close Reading. We hope that your life is filled with deep thoughts and geeky joys. See you soon!