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!

So Many Questions!

The wise are not afraid to ask questions. Here are some of the questions that were raised at our January Think & Drink.

On Wednesday, January 18, Grey Havens Group held its first Think & Drink event at Wibby Brewing in Longmont, Colorado as part of our Philosophy in Public Spaces Initiative. Wibby Brewing is a hopping place (pun intended). On this evening, the small, dog-friendly brewery was packed with canines and their human companions. There was even a shuffleboard league competing inches away from our tables but the conversations that took place in our small discussion groups were thoughtful and deep. Philosophy can happen anywhere!

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Thinking in progress!

This is how our philosophy discussions work: We begin with a theme and a text (or texts) related to that theme, whether the text is from a novel, a movie, TV show, or a work of visual art such as a photograph, painting, or sculpture. This time, our theme was “Decisions, Resolutions, Change,” and we shared readings from The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring and from the British sci-fi serial Doctor Who. We then asked our gathered thinkers to write down questions that came up for them in response to the texts, focusing on what they consider to be the “big questions.” Here are some of the questions they shared:

  • Is choice (or free will) an illusion?
  • Are there any decisions that we make that affect no one but ourselves or do all our decisions affect others?
  • To decide is to cut off options. Is this always true?
  • What decisions would you make differently after seeing the results of your choices?
  • Who will I meet on the road ahead?
  • Am I brave or foolish?
  • Do we all have something “Tookish” inside us? (“Tookish” is an adjective from The Hobbit that suggests unconventionality and a sense of adventure.)
  • Can you think out all the ripples [that come from a decision] or should you just get on with it?
  • At what point do we battle with ourselves and hesitate in our quest to move forward?
  • What causes fear and doubt? What instills trust?
  • Is it courage if there is really no other choice?

We will discuss these questions and others again and again because we believe that we should never stop questioning. You can join in by attending our February Think & Drink at The Dickens Tavern in Longmont. This time, we will gather in a quiet room to sip our drinks and think together. The format will be a large group discussion. Different formats, different places, different faces, different topics, one big idea—philosophy is for everyone!

Contact us if you are interested in bringing philosophical inquiry to your organization or community group along the Front Range. Follow our Facebook page for more philosophical events. We look forward to thinking with you!

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!